Pharmacy Students Address Unconscious Biases

University of California, San Francisco, (UCSF) pharmacy students are being trained to recognize and address unconscious bias in the pharmacy.

University of California, San Francisco, (UCSF) pharmacy students are being trained to recognize and address unconscious bias in the pharmacy.

The students first took an implicit association test to measure their unconscious attitudes toward certain characteristics such as race, gender, age, and weight. Then, they were divided into groups to discuss their results.

Two students told KQED that they were surprised by their gender and age biases. Another student, whose parents moved from Iran to the United States, said she was stunned to find out she has a bias against Muslims.

“You know we all have them,” Rene Salazar, a professor from the medical school, told the pharmacy students, according to KQED. “It’s important to pause for a second and normalize this. And be OK with this.”

Some of the pharmacy students said they have seen racial profiling related to prescription refills in the pharmacy. One student was quoted in the story saying that he sees Hispanic and African-

American patients denied refills more often than white patients. Other students pinpointed potential biases toward non-English speaking, low-income, or HIV-positive patients.

Another student said he worked as a technician in high school for an African-American pharmacist. He said they both noticed that patients tended to seek confirmation from him instead of fully trusting the pharmacist.

Salazar suggested that pharmacists can confront these biases by taking a minute before helping a patient and focus on getting a clear mind and clean slate.

There are only around a dozen medical schools in the country that address unconscious bias, Salazar told KQED.