Biases and Prejudices Of Medical Assistants

Personal preferences, biases, and prejudices will enter into many physician-patient relationships. Such biases affect the types of communication possible. When individuals are not aware of their biases or prejudices, hostile attitudes may prevail. For therapeutic communication to take place, biases must be examined, a person's comfort level with each bias determined, and measures taken to ensure that a hostile attitude is not present. Bias is defined as a slant toward a particular belief. Prejudice is defined as an opinion or judgment that is formed before all the facts are known; prejudice is a preconceived and unfavorable concept. Common biases and prejudices in today's healthcare society of certified and non-certified medical assistants include:

a) A preference for Western style medicine

b) Choosing physicians according to gender

c) Prejudice related to a person's sexual preferences

d) Discrimination based on race or religion

e) Hostile attitudes toward persons with a value system opposite your own

f) A belief that persons who cannot afford health care should receive less care than someone who can pay for full services

Medical assistants must recognize such biases and prejudices so that their own culture with its biases does not prevent them from responding therapeutically in communications with patients. Such recognition requires being aware of the differences among human beings and willingly accepting the uniqueness of each person.