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Embodied Healthcare Intuition: A Taxonomy of Sensory Cues Used by Healthcare Providers

Lillian Campbell, Elizabeth L. Angeli


Although healthcare providers’ decision-making is informed by data and proto­cols for care, recent research suggests that individuals’ intuition—which integrates previous experiences with situational awareness and sensory knowledge—also plays a large role in directing action. Drawing on two different datasets from research on EMS providers and nurses in clinical nursing simulations, this article intro­duces a taxonomy for the various cues that trigger intuitive action and unpacks how intuition manifests at different stages of care. We argue that healthcare providers rhetorically navigate a wide range of both external and internal intuitive cues, and that external cues draw on sensory engagement with bodies, technology, and the environment as well as collaborative interpersonal exchanges. Intuition, then, is more than an unconscious ability to inform action—it is a type of intelligence that develops from experience, and from the ability to be attuned to the surrounding environment and material conditions of a workplace. By creating a taxonomy for articulating intuition’s complex and diverse cues, this article aims to provide both rhetoricians of health and medicine and healthcare providers with an impetus for recognizing and valuing its key role in patient care.


Intuition; Healthcare Providers; Metis; Nursing; Emergency Medical Services (EMS)

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