Michigan Will Now Require Implicit Bias Training for Medical Licensure
Michigan medical professionals will now need to undergo implicit bias training in order for the state to issue or renew their medical licenses, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and state leaders announced earlier this month.
Citing the disparate impact of the coronavirus and other health issues on people of color, the Governor of Michigan issued a directive requiring health professionals to take implicit bias training in order to be licensed by the state.
Dean Randolph Rasch, the dean of the Michigan State University College of Nursing also joined Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and other leaders announced a new implicit bias training initiative that all health professions employees will be required to take in order to receive or renew their medical license in Michigan.
“The existing health disparities highlighted during the coronavirus pandemic have made it clear that there is more work to do to ensure people of color have the same access to the same quality of healthcare as everyone else,” said Lt. Governor Gilchrist II, chair of the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities. “By providing awareness to health care workers on how to recognize and mitigate implicit bias, we can help them carry out their mission of providing the best health care to every patient they serve.”
So What Exactly is Implicit Bias?
Implicit bias describes prejudices that unknowingly influence thinking and reaction to events and information. Experts say it impacts how Black people and other racial minorities are treated by health professionals, and can negatively influence access to COVID-19 tests and other health care services.
As of July 5, Black Michiganders represented 14% of the state population, but 40% of confirmed COVID-19 deaths in which the race of the patient was known. COVID-19 is over four times more prevalent among Black Michiganders than among white Michiganders.
According to Dean Randolph Rasch, health care professionals often have biases about groups of people they are unaware of based on schooling, upbringing, or current workplace situations that affect the quality of care they deliver to patients, especially those from minority backgrounds. For example, a physician might treat a female patient who has suffered a heart attack the same as a man, when, in reality, the signs and treatment can be different for each.
“Implicit bias means how you unconsciously think of someone shapes how you get those patient histories, the tests you run and what plan of care you give to someone,” Rasch said. “Requiring this as a part of relicensure is a support to provide better care and to ensure the data you are collecting is objective. What implicit bias training does is it trains you to know what those biases are and to begin to look within yourself. Once you see that, then you can begin — on your own or with support — to deal with those biases.”
So When will this New Medical Licensing Rule Take Effect in Michigan?
The state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs is in charge of state medical licensing in Michigan. Under this new executive directive, the department will create new rules that make implicit bias training mandatory for physicians and medical professionals seeking to qualify for licensure, renewal or registration. In most cases, the rulemaking process typically takes six months to one year to complete.
Under Executive Directive 2020-7, LARA is required to consult with relevant stakeholders in the medical profession, in state government and elsewhere in the community by November 1, 2020 to help determine relevant goals and concerns under the new rules. LARA will work in collaboration with the relevant professional boards and task forces to promulgate the rules.
What are the Additional Medical Licensing Requirements for Michigan?
If you are considering becoming a physician in Michigan, get ready to practice quite a bit of patience. Generally speaking, it can take on average anywhere from 60 to 120 days for the issuance of your Michigan Medical License from the submission of the application to the Medical Board to the issuance of the Physician Michigan Medical License for Domestic Graduates. For International Graduates, the waiting period may be longer for those unable to apply via Reciprocity due to the direct certification of the International Medical School.
Add to that the fact that the Michigan Medical Board has one of the slowest Postal Systems in the US. When a certification arrives, irregardless of the delivery method, the Medical Board will not receive and log in the certification for 2 to 6 weeks depending on the current incoming mail load and time of year.
As with most states, the busiest time of the year for Michigan and other Medical Boards is from May to August. This is due to the mass of applications which are filed by Residents who are graduating or seeking new opportunities in Michigan.
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