Addressing Racism in Medical Education An Interactive Training Module

Fam Med. 2018 May;50(5):364-368. doi: 10.22454/FamMed.2018.875510.


Background and objectives: Education of health care clinicians on racial and ethnic disparities has primarily focused on emphasizing statistics and cultural competency, with minimal attention to racism. Learning about racism and unconscious processes provides skills that reduce bias when interacting with minority patients. This paper describes the responses to a relationship-based workshop and toolkit highlighting issues that medical educators should address when teaching about racism in the context of pernicious health disparities.

Methods: A multiracial, interdisciplinary team identified essential elements of teaching about racism. A 1.5-hour faculty development workshop consisted of a didactic presentation, a 3-minute video vignette depicting racial and gender microaggression within a hospital setting, small group discussion, large group debrief, and presentation of a toolkit.

Results: One hundred twenty diverse participants attended the workshop at the 2016 Society of Teachers of Family Medicine Annual Spring Conference. Qualitative information from small group facilitators and large group discussions identified some participants' emotional reactions to the video including dismay, anger, fear, and shame. A pre/postsurvey (N=72) revealed significant changes in attitude and knowledge regarding issues of racism and in participants' personal commitment to address them.

Discussion: Results suggest that this workshop changed knowledge and attitudes about racism and health inequities. Findings also suggest this workshop improved confidence in teaching learners to reduce racism in patient care. The authors recommend that curricula continue to be developed and disseminated nationally to equip faculty with the skills and teaching resources to effectively incorporate the discussion of racism into the education of health professionals.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Cultural Competency / education
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Medical
  • Family Practice / education*
  • Health Personnel / education
  • Healthcare Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Minority Health / education*
  • Racism*
  • Teaching / education*
  • United States