Racial biases and misconceptions remain rampant in our health care system, and medical schools aren’t doing enough to address the issue, writes Brookshield Laurent, D.O., assistant professor and vice chairperson, Clinical Specialties, NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM) at Arkansas State University, in an op-ed published in The Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.).
“Implicit bias—the unconscious negative evaluation of a particular group—can affect medical judgment in any number of ways,” notes Laurent. For example, recent research shows doctors are more prone to negative, nonverbal cues, such as closed body language and the avoidance of eye contact, when treating black patients as compared to white patients.
“Since many of these attitudes are established long before physicians begin their careers, medical schools have a significant role to play in addressing the problem. The first step is to help students recognize their unconscious biases early,” writes Laurent.
According to the op-ed, some medical schools are making progress on this front; Laurent includes examples from NYITCOM and University of California, San Francisco. She also urges medical schools to provide students with frequent, hands-on opportunities to engage with patients of different backgrounds.
Ultimately, she concludes, “What’s most important is that medical schools aggressively pursue new strategies for combatting implicit bias, and share their lessons with the larger health care community.”
Read Laurent’s entire op-ed at mercnews.com.
This op-ed is part of an NYIT thought-leadership campaign designed to help generate awareness and build reputation for the university on topics of national relevance. Read more op-eds by NYIT experts.