Twelve tips for responding to microaggressions and overt discrimination: When the patient offends the learner

Daniel J Wheeler, Josué Zapata, Denise Davis, Calvin Chou
Medical Teacher 2019, 41 (10): 1112-1117
Microaggressions and expressions of overt discrimination negatively affect the experience of medical trainees at all levels. Mistreatment of trainees, including abusive and discriminatory behavior by patients and families, occurs commonly and is receiving increased attention in both the medical literature and popular press. Heightened awareness of the problem has sparked a call to engage in substantive conversations about bias in health professions education. The emphasis on direct observation in medical education makes the bedside a common setting for educators to witness these behaviors firsthand. Many educators are committed to developing a positive climate for learners but lack the training and skills to facilitate discussions about discrimination. As a result, these difficult but important conversations may not occur. The authors present a three-phase approach to responding to microaggressions and discrimination toward trainees from patients, and offer a communication toolkit that frontline medical educators can use in their daily practice.

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