Acting Wisely: Eliminating Negative Bias in Medical Education-Part 2: How Can We Do Better?

Acad Med. 2020 Sep 1. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000003700. Online ahead of print.


In Part 1 of this two-article series, the authors reviewed the problem of unmitigated bias in medical education and proposed a wisdom-based framework for a different way of educating medical students. In this article, Part 2, the authors answer a key question: How can medical educators do better? Is a bias-free environment possible? The answer to the latter question likely is "no." In fact, having a zero-bias goal in mind may blind educators and students to the implicit biases that affect physicians' decisions and actions. Biases appear to be a part of how the human brain works. This article explores ways to neutralize their destructive effects by: (1) increasing awareness of personal biases; (2) using mitigation strategies to protect against the undesirable effects of those biases; (3) working to change some negative biases, particularly learned biases; and (4) fostering positive biases toward others. The authors describe the concrete actions-interpersonal, structural, and cultural actions-that can be taken to reduce negative bias and its destructive effects.