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Gov. Whitmer mandates implicit bias training for all Michigan health professionals

Implicit biases deals with race, weight, gender and even how attractive someone is

DETROIT – One of the great tragedies of COVID-19 is the disproportionate impact it’s had on the Black or African American community.

According to state officials, despite being only 14% of Michigan’s population, Black people make up 30% of all coronavirus cases and 40% of COVID-19 related deaths.

RELATED: Michigan COVID-19 data: Cases and deaths by race, ethnicity

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she believes those numbers are because of uneven health care delivery and signed an Executive Directive to develop rules to require implicit bias training for health professionals to address racial disparities.

Michigan COVID-19 cases by race as of July 5, 2020.
Michigan COVID-19 cases by race as of July 5, 2020. (WDIV)

The governor’s task force said people of color suffer in medical settings from the unconscious bias by medical professionals.

She turned to Dr. Randolph Rasch, Dean and Professor of the Michigan State University College of Nursing, who spoke extensively about what implicit bias is. Rasche said it’s an evolutionary human self-defense mechanism, but “because it is so frequently associated with race, it has the implications of thinking that we’re accusing someone of being racist. The key is that it is unconscious.”

Implicit biases also deals with weight, gender and even how attractive someone is.

He said implicit biases, in a medical setting in particular, leads to negative unconscious thought and lesser for some, and even no treatment for others.

Rasch and the task force believes that causes unnecessary deaths.

“It is especially important in how we gather a history, how we do physical exams, how we make decisions about the data and how we use that to work with patients to develop the best health care they need,” Rasch said.

The practical impact of Executive Directive 2020-7 means those looking to get a new license or wants to renew their medical license will have to undergo bias training.


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