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Invited Commentary
May 2017

Implicit Bias in Academic Medicine: #WhatADoctorLooksLike

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco
JAMA Intern Med. 2017;177(5):657-658. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.9643

On October 9, 2016, Tamika Cross posted to Facebook the description of her experience on Delta flight DL945, flying from Detroit to Houston, when she offered to assist with an inflight medical emergency. Dr Cross, an African American woman, is a graduate of Meharry Medical College and is currently a postgraduate year (PGY) 4 physician in obstetrics and gynecology, serving as administrative chief resident at the University of Texas in Houston. Her offers of assistance were first met with patronizing dismissal and subsequently, even when she had persuaded the flight crew that she was a physician, were declined in favor of those of a white man, who offered no evidence that he was a physician. The post went viral #WhatADoctorLooksLike and was followed by a chorus of similar experiences related by other dark-skinned women whose claims that they were physicians were discounted on the basis of their skin color, sex, or both.

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