This article explores the value of rhetorical genre theory for health care and professional communication researchers. The authors outline the conceptual resources emerging from genre theory, specifically ways to conceptualize social context, professional identity formation, and genres as functioning but hierarchical networks, and discuss the way they have used these resources in two separate but complementary health-care studies: a project that documents the ways regulated and regularized resources of the genre of case presentations shape the professional identity formation of medical students and a project that extends this theoretical work to observe that genres, especially policy genres, function to regularize or control other genres and shape the identity formation of midwives in Ontario, Canada. The authors also observe that the implications of rhetorical genre theory have impelled both of these studies to develop an interdisciplinary trajectory that includes members of health-care communities as participating researchers.
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