A medical student at one of the nation’s leading schools recounts how their “problem based learning cases frequently present patients of color as non-compliant, poor, and diseased”. A white child is depicted as a “brave trooper in dealing with his pain”. Conversely, a black female patient with diabetic ketoacidosis is described as “combative”.
At first glance, such differences in perception of patients may appear to be innocuous. However, the author of this anonymous submission to Systemic Disease—an online platform seeking to address bias in medicine through storytelling and student-led advocacy—astutely observes how racial biases inform the tone and language used in these instructional models for medical students.
Indeed, just earlier this month the Association of American Medical Colleges hosted its first summit on Inspiring Intersections: A Call to Collaborate, Challenge, and Change. Speakers engaged in discussions on how unconscious bias is pervasive in all facets of medicine ranging from medical school admissions and medical education to faculty advancement and patient care. One of the speakers was Dr. Tamika Cross, a Black female physician who was notoriously barred from providing emergent care to a fellow passenger after her medical credentials were questioned by the flight attendant. Underlying racial and gender bias led to the delay in needed medical care.
Read the full article originally published in HuffPost.