• Katie Nunemaker

Tips for Reflecting on & Overcoming Biases in Healthcare

Updated: Feb 26, 2020

Regardless of whether you're working in a healthcare-related field or not, biases can get in the way of doing your job effectively. They can also have a significant impact on your personal life and relationships as they influence your feelings, decisions, and behaviors. Realizing that you're biased can be difficult, but it's essential. Here's our list of tips to check and overcome your biases:

Remember that everyone has biases, and having one isn't something to be ashamed of, as long as you're putting in the work to make improvements. We can all be better, and it's never too late to start. 

Take the Implicit Associations Test from Project Implicit to determine your level of bias against different genders, sexualities, ethnicities, religions, body types, and ages. Though it may not be 100% accurate, it's a great first step to get you thinking about stereotypes and biases, and it's helpful when evaluating the way you think and react to things. This test is free, and you can find it here: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/selectatest.html

Practice self-awareness and recognize situations where your biases impact the way you're behaving. List behaviors where your biases may be influencing the way you act, and be specific. Do you laugh at jokes that may be offensive? How do you react to photos of different individuals? Once you've made your list, make plans to counter the biases that you have. 

Are you having a hard time coming up with a list? Take things minute by minute. When going about your day, pause and reflect on your actions and your thoughts, and consider the biases that you may be experiencing.  

Be open to learning about individuals and working to understand them. The more you interact with individuals that you perceive to be different from you, the more comfortable you'll feel, and the more you'll be able to put a face or a personality to each individual. Recognizing their unique characteristics and their personalities will help you separate the person from the bias that you're experiencing. 

Recognize that fighting bias isn't a short process. Fighting prejudice is a lifelong process that takes constant work and mindfulness. Evaluate your actions daily, and if you're comfortable, ask for feedback from trusted peers and colleagues. If they're also working to improve their biases, they'll be great resources, and they'll be able to recognize when you're acting due to a stereotype.  

Confronting and overcoming your biases is essential to be an open-minded person, which is crucial in so many aspects of life. Use these tips to start overcoming your biases today!

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