Dr. Brian Richardson and alumnus Eric James recently published an article entitled "The role of occupational identity in negotiating traumatic experiences: The case of a rural fire department" in the Journal of Applied Communication Research. Their study examines how firefighters manage and cope with trauma. Richardson and James suggest firefighters are especially challenged to constructively cope with trauma because they work in a highly masculine environment and because the role of "helper" and "problem solver" are so central to their identities. After identifying various tensions firefighters must navigate in their occupation, the authors offer practical implications for addressing this issue.
This study was initiated in Dr. Richardson's Spring 2014 Qualitative Research Methods class. Students in the class played an invaluable role in assisting with data collection by interviewing firefighters. Dr. James assisted with data analysis and writing the manuscript. He received his M.A. in Communication Studies from UNT in 2007, his doctorate in Communication Studies from Texas A&M University in 2014, and teaches at Metropolitan State University of Denver. The Richardson and James article is currently featured on the Communication Currents website here: https://www.natcom.org/communication-currents/what-role-does-occupational-identity-play-firefighters%E2%80%99-response-trauma