Combating implicit bias in health care

Nurse Leader Insider, January 11, 2018

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Every nurse brings their own perspective and bias to the profession; here are some ways to recognize your own biases and ensure they don’t interfere with your practice.

Implicit (or inherent) biases, are the unconscious preconceived notions that we bring to our interactions with others. As frontline staff with the most contact with patients, nurses need to be particularly aware of this issue, and prevent it from impacting patient care. Here are some guidelines that can help nurses deal with inherent bias:

Identify your assumptions: Seemingly minute details can become a trigger for unconscious bias, such as clothing or demeanor, so it’s vital that you notice these feelings when they come up. Once identified, interrogate these feelings: How does the trigger affect you? Do you treat people differently because of this?

Understand the importance: Implicit bias can lead to disparities in care. Even if you are unaware of your biases, things like body language, tone, and attention can all impact the quality of care the patient receives. All patients deserve quality healthcare, and understanding your bias will make you a better nurse.

Keep talking: It can be a difficult topic to discuss, but having a conversation with staff about implicit bias can  have a positive effect. Having talks, one-on-one conversations, and seminars about implicit bias can remove the taboo of bias and provide your nurses with the tools to confront the issue and make changes.

Source: Minority Nurse

For more patient care tips, check out Strategies for Nurse Managers Reading Room.

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