BIPOC and Navigating Medical Health Care
On April 30th, we invited 3 BIPOC speakers who work in the healthcare system to discuss the barriers BIPOC face from the employee’s perspective as well as patients’ perspectives. Here’s a recap:
One speaker shared the added hurdles that had to be overcome throughout their career such as not being considered for opportunities despite having all necessary credentials and not being given a reason why.
All speakers agreed:
- There appears to be a trend where BIPOC are constantly the only ones excluded from opportunities or faculty lists regardless of their accolades. One speaker noted racism was exhibited in terms of who is included or acknowledged for prestigious positions.
- There is also a trend where BIPOC health workers are quick to be publicly “blamed and shamed and slow to be praised.”
- Tokenism is a prevalent issue and puts a lot of pressure on BIPOC medical specialists who are expected to rectify systemic problems that have not been properly researched.
One speaker emphasized the importance of BIPOC representation in the medical staff. BIPOC patients were more open and comfortable when encountering BIPOC healthcare
When it came to giving advice to BIPOC accessing medical healthcare services, the speakers had this to say:
All speakers agreed it was important to have a trusted advocate with you during appointments. This is partly because the appointment itself can be stressful, which affects memory. One speaker emphasized this recommendation by sharing a friend’s experience where they weren’t provided all the information, weren’t fully told the procedure they would be enduring and as a result, unwanted, irreversible changes were made.
One speaker added that if you don’t have an advocate, to be your own advocate by researching before your appointment(s), not being afraid to push-back, and if you’re in the position to do so, seek a different specialist if they are not respecting your concerns.
They also suggested familiarizing yourself with patients’ rights. One such resource would be:
The speakers concluded the discussion by adding:
- Health care workers should be putting their all into ensuring all patients are provided appropriate care and to provide an inviting environment for all.
- The change needs to start with the healthcare workers, including White allies who should lean into uncomfortable conversations and learning efforts to debunk myths about BIPOC and biases (e.g., that Black folks have “thicker” skin leading to higher pain tolerance which is false).