Managing Racial or Ethnic Biases
Even though many years have already passed since the civil rights movement, racism and ethnic biases remain to be the issues that bother many American citizens. In American society, there are groups organized based on racial hate, ethnic attacks, and other misunderstandings that touch upon the questions of skin color or nationality. To avoid such misunderstandings, many organizations promote the development of special codes of ethics that educate people about appropriate ethical behavior, support professional accountability, and improve practice (Corey, Corey, Corey, & Callanan, 2015). Still, the results of such improvements are hard to predict because there are some people, who just cannot forget about such differences and pay their attention as often as possible.
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Several weeks ago, I faced the situation in a hospital when a patient did not want to be treated by an African-American surgeon. The patient could not give clear reasons for why he refused to use the services offered by a high-qualified doctor, but all people around were able to comprehend that the patient was bothered with the color of his doctor’s skin. Though people live in a democratic country where everyone has the right to support their positions and develop their own opinions, they stay prejudiced and unfair to each other thinking that the color of skin, religion, or other biases should influence a working process.
Health care, medicine, pharmacology, and education should be on top of the biased-free spheres’ list. When a person asks for medical help or wants to get an education, the color of the skin of medical workers, teachers, assistants, students, or patients should not matter. People and organizations may be bothered with payment details or oppositions with their religious beliefs. Still, in my opinion, racial biases are not appropriate in health care and medicine.
To my great surprise, the situation with that race-biased patient was solved quickly, and a new white doctor was appointed to him. Medical workers explained such a decision as to the necessity to save time and get a chance to save the patient’s life. Doctors and nurses believed that their task was to stabilize the patient’s condition, but not to solve his racial concerns.
Though I was not a direct participant in that situation, only an observer, I could reflect on the event and suggest a different solution to that problem. Such a patient’s request may seem offensive to doctors or other medical staff. It could happen that the same white patient would be uneager to cooperate with an African-American social worker or teacher. Such requests cannot be supported and solved for the patient’s benefit.
Providers and clients with different cultural or ethnic backgrounds do not cooperate in a vacuum (Diller, 2015). It is life, and people have to live according to the rules and social norms developed in a country. Nowadays, it is hard to find hospitals or other public organizations that provide one racial group only with certain services. Therefore, it is wrong and unfair to support racially-biased people with their decisions and abilities to refuse the services of professionals, who have a different color of skin.
That situation should be solved differently, and the patient had to be explained that his well-being and his life depended on the professionalism of the doctor but not on the color of the skin. The patient had to think about the necessity to choose between his personal, racial prejudice and the possibility to be saved to avoid similar concerns and misunderstandings in the future.
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Corey, G., Corey, M. S., Corey, C., & Callanan, P. (2015). Issues and ethics in the helping professions, updated with 2014 ACA codes (9th ed.). Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.
Diller, J. V. (2015). Cultural diversity: A primer for the human services (5th ed.). Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.