• National Minority Health Month

    New STFM Podcast Tackles Implicit Bias, Microaggressions

    April 26, 2022, 9:21 a.m. Michael Devitt — On April 15, the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine published the latest episode of its Underrepresented in Medicine Journey to Academic Medicine podcast, “How Family Medicine Can Address Implicit Bias and Microaggressions.”

    podcast equipment

    Hosted by Tochi Iroku-Malize, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., the AAFP’s president-elect, founding chair and professor of family medicine for the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell in Hempstead, N.Y., and senior vice president and chair of the family medicine service line for Northwell Health; and Omari Hodge, M.D., a practicing family physician with Northeast Georgia Physicians Group in Gainesville, Ga., the episode featured an extensive conversation with Danielle Jones, Ph.D., M.P.H., director of the AAFP’s Center for Diversity and Health Equity; and Ashley Bentley, M.B.A., C.A.E., manager of workforce development and student initiatives in the Academy’s department of medical education, as the participants discussed these and other topics.

    “STFM has been a mighty thought partner and collaborator on issues of diversity and health equity since the launching of the AAFP’s Center for Diversity and Health Equity in 2017,” said Jones. “It was a pleasure to continue this relationship in the form of a podcast that allows us to reach an even broader audience.”   

    Podcast in Review

    The podcast began with a general definition of implicit bias, with a focus on implicit bias in academic medicine. The speakers noted that everyone experiences — and practices — implicit bias to some degree. In academic medicine, learners may have faculty that view them as someone who has a certain characteristic or behavior, or is in some way substandard; conversely, learners may also view certain faculty as being difficult or more demanding. Meanwhile, some students who are people of color and encounter a faculty member who is also a person of color may unconsciously think that the faculty member will make them work harder.

    Story Highlights

    The speakers added that while implicit bias often is discussed in the context of patient care, in the academic setting it could easily affect the performances of both students and faculty, which could interfere with the learning environment.

    “Some of the hardest lifting is just trying to convince people that this is a thing,” said Hodge. “We feel that we view life through a filter that everyone else uses as well, but it’s just our filter. Other people have their filters. Just getting to the point where we can recognize we’re using a filter to view life, I think, would help a lot of us in understanding that the way we see things might not be the only perspective.”

    The discussion then transitioned to microaggressions and their impact in academic medicine. According to Bentley, research has shown that students who are subjected to microaggressions have an increased likelihood of depression during medical school, lower satisfaction scores with medical school, and a reduced likelihood of completing medical school. Additional research indicates that microaggressions can lead some students away from selecting family medicine as a specialty choice, and that students who had moved away from pursuing a career in primary care were more likely to experience higher levels of microaggression and discrimination, and also had less favorable or fewer interactions with minority groups.

    “It’s really important that we find a way to support students through all of this,” Bentley said.

    Other Topics

    Several other topics were discussed at the podcast. Among them:

    • the impact of the hidden curriculum in medical schools on a student’s learning outcomes and specialty choice,
    • dealing with microaggressions,
    • the importance of having allies,
    • how academic family physicians can address implicit bias and microaggressions,
    • leadership opportunities,
    • the development of team norms, and
    • the “oops, ouch, snap” practice of conveying a need to communicate and creating a safe space for sharing information.

    Throughout the podcast, Jones and Bentley referred to several resources and toolkits developed by the Academy to help individuals address implicit bias and microaggressions in a professional environment. These include

    • The EveryONE Project Implicit Bias toolkit, which features a training guide aimed at faculty, additional guidance documents for facilitators and participants, patient videos, webcast links and more; and
    • The AAFP Health Equity Fellowship webpage, which provides information on the fellowship and links to blogs and opinion pieces written by past health equity fellows.

    The episode webpage also features links to various journal articles, materials from the STFM and AMA, and additional information.

    About the Podcast

    The URM JAM podcast was developed by the URM Pipeline Workgroup as part of STFM’s Underrepresented in Medicine Initiative, with funding from the ABFM Foundation.

    The podcast debuted with three episodes in October 2021, with new episodes and guest speakers appearing roughly every three weeks since. Thirteen episodes have been produced, addressing topics such as building an academic portfolio, caring for underserved communities, the role of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, and more.