Given the implications of implicit bias in the patient care experience it is important for clinical educators to work to address implicit bias within the health care education process.


Whether we are thinking of nursing education, medical school, or other forms of health care profession training, this experience represents a critical time for introducing future health care professionals to the concept of implicit bias and its implications for the post-graduation care they will provide.  While implicit bias may affect numerous stages of this education (e.g., during the admissions process to the aforementioned educational institutions), the curricular content to which students are exposed can be pivotal for shaping not only their academic acumen and effectiveness as future professionals, but also their interpersonal interactions in the field post-graduation.


Indeed, the potential impact of addressing implicit bias in clinical education is notable.  For example, a December 2015 study of more than 3,500 students at 49 U.S. medical schools found that having taken an Implicit Association Test (IAT) while in medical school was associated with a significant reduction in students’ implicit racial bias as assessed by the IAT [1]. This research suggests that there may be benefits to students for incorporating the concept of implicit bias into health care curricula, particularly when it is taught by clinical educators that can effectively incorporate the IAT into their materials [1].


While further research is needed to understand the precise nuances of this education for future health professionals, other researchers have also begun considering clinical education as a possible point for effective interventions to decrease student implicit biases [2]. This dialogue is likely to persist as scholars and clinicians continue to examine the origins of health care disparities and consider implicit biases as a possible contributor to these dynamics.






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[1] Van Ryn, M., et al., Medical School Experiences Associated with Change in Implicit Racial Bias Among 3547 Students: A Medical Student CHANGES Study Report. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 2015. 30(12): p. 1748-1756.

[2] Haider, A.H., et al., Association of Unconscious Race and Social Class Bias With Vignette-Based Clinical Assessments by Medical Students. Journal of the American Medical Association, 2011. 306(9): p. 942-951.