Dr. Marilyn Singleton

Our team at Do No Harm is contacted almost daily by medical professionals who are disturbed and insulted by requirements that they participate in “Implicit Bias Training” to maintain their professional licenses. 

One of those individuals, Dr. Marilyn Singleton, a board-certified anesthesiologist and a visiting fellow at Do No Harm, shared her thoughts on this practice in a compelling piece published this week in the Washington Post. 

The state of California (where she resides) now requires all physicians to participate in “Implicit Bias Training” every two years to remain licensed to practice medicine. 

Dr. Singleton, a Black woman, is vehemently opposed to the training. Why? She states: 

“I reject the unscientific accusation that people are defined by their race, not by their individual beliefs and choices.”

As part of her reasoning for opposing the mandate, Dr. Singleton details the harm the basic premise behind “Implicit Bias Training” (that white individuals are inherently racist) can cause to physicians and patients. 

“Think about the message this mandate sends to Black physicians. It suggests that I should be wary of my White colleagues because, after all, they’re biased against people like me.”

She continues: 

“The message to physicians is bad enough, but the message to patients is much worse. Black people are, in effect, being told that White physicians are likely to quite literally damage our health. If that’s the case, why on earth would you seek medical care, unless you could be absolutely certain of not being treated by a White physician? And if you do seek medical care, why wouldn’t you doubt every word from a White doctor who is inherently prejudiced against you?”

Dr. Singleton is right. Rather than improve outcomes for Black patients, “Implicit Bias Training” creates divides between those who need care and those who provide it. And, it is in complete violation of the Hippocratic Oath. 

“When we all took our oath to “first, do no harm,” we meant it, and we live it. I can’t imagine spending my entire career thinking my peers can’t uphold that oath without constant racial reeducation.”

If you are being forced to take “Implicit Bias Training” as a condition of your employment and would like our help, please reach out.

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