Implicit bias is a phrase about the attitude and actions someone had towards people of another race in an unconscious manner.
Last month, the state Senate approved a bill to require police officers to be trained in implicit bias.
But now it’s something Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wants to see happen in health care. The coronavirus statistics are shining a light on racial disparities when it comes to health care.
Black Michiganders make up 14% of the population but 40% of coronavirus deaths and the virus is four times more prevalent in the African American community.
Now, the governor signed an executive order requiring all workers in the medical field to undergo implicit bias training.
“We are very excited and very supportive and elated about this decision,” said Dr. Patricia Wilkerson-Uddyback, who is the vice president of Academic & Community Affairs at Detroit Medical Center.
The DMC has started training its residents to identify social determinants of health, like environment, culture, race, access, and economic status.
The DMC plans to include implicit bias training for all employees by the end of the year. Ascension Michigan already has implicit bias training in their system, that includes for the workplace and for dealing with the public.
“Everybody has bias but people don’t necessarily even know they have bias,” said Chief Nursing Officer of Ascension Michigan Maureen Chadwick.
Ascension Michigan’s training also addresses what happens when patients act on their implicit bias towards minority doctors and nurses. Chadwick gave an example of when patients may see a minority nurse and assume they are a nurses aide.
The governor’s order requires the state’s licensing and regulatory department, LARA, to consult with experts to determine goals and concerns under these new rules by November.
Many health care officials are proud to have taken the lead.
For example, Michigan Medicine in Ann Arbor has had employees go through implicit bias training for the past five years.
Now, they are in phase two of training to teach 14,000 employees how to change behaviors and actions.
Dr. David Brown is the associate dean and associate vice president of Health Equity and Inclusion for Michigan Medicine.
“You don’t get cured from taking these trainings of your biases," Brown said. "It’s an active process and requires introspection and self-accountability.”
Henry Ford Health System also supports the executive order.
Jan Harrington-Davis is the vice president of Talent Acquisition, Workforce Diversity & Workforce Solutions with Henry Ford Health System.
She sent us this statement:
“Henry Ford is already engaged in implicit, or unconscious, bias training with its workforce and through the years has created an array of programs and projects aimed at promoting diversity and social justice.
Some steps we've taken already: Our CEO, Wright L. Lassiter III, and senior leaders will host forums next month with team members across our health system as we work together to lean in on bias and recognize how doing so improves workplaces, patient care and the community. By the end of 2020, leaders at every level will have completed unconscious bias training. Next week, we launch a tool kit to assist all of our team members with encounters of bias.
We are proud to be a member of the task force and hopeful that actions such as this latest one will lead to real, meaningful, positive change not only in healthcare but in the lives of people across Michigan and around the country.”
Beaumont Health also responded to the order saying, “Beaumont agrees with the Michigan Health and Hospital Association and supports implicit bias training and continues to build on the existing training we have in place for all health care workers.”