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School of Medicine Students Develop Implicit Bias Training Program with Positive Results

To date, limited research has focused on curricular design to recognize and address implicit bias early in medical student training

August 05, 2022
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Forouhideh Peyvandi, SOM Class of 2023

As leaders in health care teams, physicians can play an integral role in identifying, addressing and teaching others how to mitigate the impact of implicit bias on patient interactions and health outcomes. However, limited research has focused on curricular design to recognize and address implicit bias early on in medical training, especially for medical students in pre-clinical training. To address this disparity, a group of School of Medicine (SOM) students collaborated to design and implement an implicit bias training program for first- and second- year medical students. The program has not only received very positive feedback from SOM students but has also been presented at several conferences, including the University of Michigan Annual Diversity in Medicine Conference, the American Medical Student Association National Conference, the Annual Medical Society of the State of New York Conference and the University of North Carolina Annual Minority Health Conference.

“As medical students ourselves, we wanted to create a program that addressed this educational gap in a way that would resonate with our fellow students. For this reason, we developed a virtual curriculum that included not only didactic learning but also real-life scenarios of implicit bias, including racism, sexism and ableism. We hoped that tailoring the training to scenarios future students might find themselves in would make the concepts taught more memorable and the strategies we discussed more applicable. Based on student testimonials provided in the post-session survey, it seems we succeeded,” said Forouhideh Peyvandi, SOM Class of 2023, who worked with fellow members of the Class of 2023 Ebtisam Zeynu, Madison Kasoff, Joshua Buckley and Mariah Fontanez-Lutsky under the mentorship of Dr. Mill Etienne, M.D.’02, M.P.H., vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion and associate dean for student affairs, to develop the program.

To date, more than 400 students have participated in the program, and student feedback has demonstrated an overwhelmingly positive response with students expressing a much higher comfort level in discussing implicit bias and a strong interest in continued curricular experiences. The training has been expanded to include physical therapy students at New York Medical College (NYMC), and possibly in the future will include longitudinal training that extends to third- and fourth-year SOM students.