Michigan healthcare workers required to participate in implicit bias training
Many see the language as a blatant insult to those who’ve devoted their lives to helping people by implying they cannot be trusted to treat patients equally
From June 1, Michigan health care providers – including massage therapists and dentists – are required to participate in “implicit bias” training if they want to continue practicing. The Michigan State Medical Society charges each individual provider $75 – $125 for this training.
The new rule, ordered in 2020 by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, seeks to make providers more aware of their “unconscious” biases in an effort to improve care and reduce health care inequities. An estimated 420,000 health care providers will need to take the training, from doctors, dentists and nurses to podiatrists, chiropractors, athletic trainers, midwives and massage therapists.
Jamie Brown, president of the Michigan Nurses Association, said racism is a public health crisis.
“Nurses know that structural inequities in health care can be deadly for people of color and other members of marginalized communities,” Brown said. “We believe that implicit bias training is one important step to take to address the disparities in our healthcare system.”
Michigan’s mandate does not equivocate. It says medical professionals need to combat their “attitude[s] or internalized stereotype[s]” that “contribut[e] to unequal treatment of people based on race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion.”
Many see the language as a blatant insult to those who’ve devoted their lives to helping people by implying they cannot be trusted to treat patients equally.
Many are left wondering if implicit bias training actually works – and research on the subject has come under serious criticism. The theory of “implicit bias” is deeply controversial in scientific circles. It is not clear, for instance, what most implicit bias methods actually measure, and early claims about their efficacy have proven unjustified.
In Psychology Today, Lee Jussim, Ph.D. – a social psychologist who has written on social perception, stereotypes, and prejudice for more than 30 years – stated, “My own view is that the research framed on implicit bias has been wildly oversold, and its proponents have often leaped to conclusions not justified by the data…The sexy story that the public has received is irresponsible.”
He continued, “But if it was just a case of oversold science, the issue would be primarily restricted to the scientific community to resolve what is and is not justified. Instead, however, implicit bias training has been instituted at numerous colleges and universities, as well as some corporations, around the country.
“This is wildly premature — and potentially even dangerous. The overselling of implicit bias has contributed to the toxic environment on many campuses and in some corporations in which speech is considered ‘violence,’ and in which, if you say the wrong thing, you can be denounced, ostracized, and even fired. And by ‘wrong thing,’ I am not talking physical threats or sexual harassment. I am talking about making intellectual arguments against affirmative action, acknowledging the evidence that biology contributes to some demographic group differences, or even simply showing a debate regarding Canadian speech laws.”
There are also those who believe this will corrupt medical licensing. Dr Daniel Desser, who practiced in Michigan wrote a recent opinion piece in the Detroit News which called the mandate an “insult” to doctors and asked “Why is Michigan trying to destroy the doctor-patient relationship with identity politics?”