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Survey Finds Racism Against Asians Common in Medical Field
  • Posted September 14, 2023

Survey Finds Racism Against Asians Common in Medical Field

Asian-American medical professionals commonly experience racism from both peers and patients, claims a new survey that documented myriad slurs and a lack of support.

Researcher David Yang, an emergency medicine fellow at Yale School of Medicine, studied the issue because of his own experience.

Yang, 32, a Chinese American, recalled hearing racist comments linking him to the COVID virus, slurs from patients and being confused with other Asians.

“The conversations, the microaggressions, the discrimination that I had experienced were very much echoed,” Yang told NBC News. “All the participants I spoke to generally felt unsupported by the medical school, and felt that bringing it up would be costly for their medical training.”

Discrimination was overt, according to descriptions provided by those surveyed.

A Filipino American medical student said a patient's parent once complained, “I don't want that [Asian] nurse taking care of my child because I don't want my kid to get coronavirus."

Among the two dozen medical professionals surveyed was a Pakistani American medical student who said his attending physician once made an Islamophobic joke about him.

That attending physician said to patients, “He's gonna get his buddies from the Taliban to come after you.”

Asian women reported both racism and sexism, with one saying a patient told her, “You're so pretty. You're like a China doll.”

The pandemic added another layer to the racism. And overt racism or sexism weren't the only issues.

“We're supposed to have these mentors for small groups that we stick with for four years, and it took one of them the whole first year to be able to tell me apart from the other East Asian guy there,” one participant said.

Yang's survey showed that medical students across Asian American groups experienced frequent racism, and their schools did little about it.

Other minority medical professionals have faced similar discrimination, according to past research. This includes Black doctors marginalized at work and in recruitment, NBC News reported.

Yang said many of the participants of his survey said that they didn't know where to go for help, or their concerns were discounted when they did seek assistance.

“These racial slurs happen, unfortunately, quite often,” Yang said. “But you kind of have to let that go and really focus on prioritizing patient care.”

The research found five major themes in the negative experiences of Asian American medical professionals. They were invisibility as racial aggression, visibility and racial aggression, absence of the Asian American experience in medical school, being ignored while seeking support, and envisioning the future.

The study was published Sept. 11 in JAMA Network Open.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information on discrimination in healthcare.

SOURCE: JAMA Network Open, Sept. 11, 2023; NBC News

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