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Susan E. Bell, PhD

Professor, Department of Sociology, College of Arts and Sciences

Susan E. Bell, PhD, is Professor in the Department of Sociology, Drexel University where she served as Department Head 2015-2020. Previously, she was Professor of Sociology and A. Myrick Freeman Professor of Social Sciences at Bowdoin College. She is a graduate of Haverford College (Philosophy), received her PhD in Sociology from Brandeis University, and was a Post-Doctoral Fellow in Sociology in the Department of Psychiatry at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center, Harvard Medical School. Her research specialty is the sociology of health and illness. At Drexel she teaches courses about the sociology of health and illness, global health, and classical social theory. Since the 1970s her scholarship has examined the interaction between patient cultures and embodied health movements, on the one hand, and the changing culture and structure of biomedicine on the other. She is the author of DES Daughters: Embodied Knowledge and the Transformation of Women’s Health Politics (Temple 2009) and co-editor with Anne Figert of Reimagining (Bio)Medicalization, Pharmaceuticals and Genetics: Old Critiques and New Engagements (Routledge 2015). She is writing a book based on her NSF-funded global hospital ethnography, Permeable Hospitals, Transnational Communities: A Global Hospital in Maine. She observed encounters between clinic staff, interpreters, and adult immigrant and refugee patients in two outpatient hospital clinics to shed light on how they respond to cultural and linguistic differences in face-to-face interactions. Her current study of International Medical Graduates (IMGs), Refugee Physicians in the United States, seeks to understand physicians’ experiences of forced migration to the US and their career pathways after they arrive. IMGs make up close to 25% of practicing physicians in the US. Refugee physicians are key resources for providing culturally and linguistically competent care to an in increasingly diverse population as well as addressing current and predicted physician shortages.