Want to get an up-close glimpse at a person with cultural biases? Follow these instructions:
1. Grab a mirror.
2. Look into it.
That’s one way to summarize the starting point for “Battling Bias’s Distorted Images,” the cover story for the October issue of PT in Motion magazine. The article makes the case that while unconscious bias—also known as implicit bias—is very much a part of the human condition, it’s something that can be acknowledged and managed in ways that minimize its impact on relationships. For health care providers including physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs), that’s an important step to take in effective patient care.
Through interviews with PTs in a variety of settings, author and Associate Editor Eric Ries explores how implicit bias—and these PTs’ recognition of it in themselves—has impacted and changed their lives, particularly at the professional level. Several describe the journey as a path that’s not always easy, but absolutely crucial to providing the best possible person-centered care.
The article also delves into how you can uncover implicit biases through self-tests such as the Implicit Association Test series, and what to do after they’re identified. PTs interviewed for the article provide insight on how physical therapy education programs can respond to the challenges of implicit bias, and provide practical tips on making behavior changes that may, in turn, lessen, if not eliminate, a particular bias.
According to Hadiya Green Guerrero, PT, DPT, interviewed for the story, efforts to counter implicit bias are necessary for PTs and PTAs because the stakes are high.
“Do your best to think about your biases and check them at the door,” Green Guerrero says in the article. “Seek to learn and understand each patient or client to the clinic, what constitutes his or her biggest health concerns, and what barriers that person faces to optimal well-being and needed interaction with the health care system.”
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