Laura L. Morgan – WSJ Sept 30, 2022
College Station, Texas
I was fired from my nursing job this year for refusing to take “implicit bias” training. After 39 years of providing equal care to all my patients without regard to their race, I objected to a mandatory course grounded in the idea that I’m racist because I’m white. I fear every healthcare professional will soon be forced to make the same awful decision I did: Falsely admit to being racist or abandon the medical field.
My ordeal started in September 2021 when my employer, Dallas-based Baylor Scott & White Health, rolled out its annual training modules for clinical educators. The list included “Overcoming Unconscious Bias.” After viewing the interactive course, I contacted my supervisor and asked for a meeting with the chief nursing officer and the human resources director. The former sent a surrogate; the latter didn’t attend. After two meetings, it was clear that I wouldn’t be given an exemption. My supervisor told me, “I don’t want you to die on this cross.”
But I did. The idea of implicit bias is grounded in the belief that white people treat those who aren’t white worse than those who are. It’s part of the woke assumption that society, including healthcare, suffers from “systemic racism.” Accordingly, my own supposed implicit bias, which is a euphemism for ingrained racism, must be rooted out. Not only that, it must be replaced with preferential treatment for the nonwhite. I fail to see how real racial discrimination is justified by my nonexistent racism.
I knew it was coming, but I was still devastated when I was fired in February. I went from a six-figure job to zero income. The day I was fired I sold my car to make sure I’d have enough money to live on. When I tried to find a new healthcare job, no one would hire me. No doubt if they contacted my old employer, they were told why I was let go.
States are increasingly requiring implicit-bias training as a condition for obtaining medical and nursing licenses. As of July, the Kentucky Board of Nursing requires that all registered nurses take a continuing-education course on implicit bias. In July, as a journalistic exercise, I paid $5 and signed up for the recommended course, created by the Kentucky Nurses Association. Nurses are told that “implicit bias kills,” and that white privilege is a “covert” form of racism. The course walks nurses through their possible contributions to “modern-day lynchings in the workplace.”
In June, Michigan started requiring all professional-license holders to take two hours of implicit-bias training. That’s everyone from doctors and nurses to dentists and counselors. The training must be taken at every license renewal, which sends the message that racism is essentially permanent and incurable. Massachusetts also mandated implicit-bias training for doctors in June, connecting doctors’ supposed racism to lower-quality care for minority patients. Maryland will enact its rule for “all healthcare practitioners” on Oct. 1.
No state board of medicine or nursing provides sufficient evidence to support the claim that all white people are implicitly biased, and there’s plenty of scholarly research that shows that implicit-bias testing is flawed. Policy makers don’t seem to be considering the unintended consequences of these mandates. Accusing my peers and me of racism will contribute to soaring levels of burnout, causing many to leave the medical profession. Some, like me, will surely be forced out. Patients, especially minorities, will experience the most harm. Their caregivers are being told to admit to unconscious racism. Why would you see a physician who supposedly hates you and will hurt your health?
More state mandates are surely on the way, including in red states. Most state medical associations, which exert a powerful influence over policy, have bought in to the belief that their own members are racist. The Texas Nurses Association declares the existence of “racial biases in healthcare” and supports implicit-bias training for nurses. The national Federation of State Medical Boards urges state boards to take a bigger role in addressing the “systemic racism and structural inequities” that it says are “embedded” in American healthcare.
Before I was fired, I wrote the following to the leadership of Baylor Scott & White Health: “Treating patients, coworkers, family members, and my superiors in a fair and respectful manner is the practice I have subscribed to during my entire 39-year nursing career.” The same is true of most of the medical professionals I’ve worked with. No one—not me, my peers or our patients—will be better off if more states call us liars and racists.
Ms. Morgan is a registered nurse and program manager at Do No Harm