Racism Can Disrupt Physician-Patient Power Dynamics

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Racism Can Disrupt Physician-Patient Power Dynamics
Racism Can Disrupt Physician-Patient Power Dynamics

FRIDAY, May 20, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- A case of racism by a patient that disrupted the power dynamics between a physician and patient is described in a reflection piece published in the May/June issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

J. Nwando Olayiwola, M.D., M.P.H., from San Francisco General Hospital in California, described a personal incident involving the disruption of power dynamics between a physician and patient as a result of racism.

The author described an encounter with a patient with some mental health issues who refused to be treated by a black female doctor. She described her feeling of a shift in power and felt the need to try to prove herself and her qualifications to treat the patient. In a subsequent encounter with an elderly black patient, the author was reminded of her power and accomplishments and of how she had developed resilience over time. The author noted that as a doctor she had the power and privilege to control how long she needed to be in a situation and could leave the situation. In addition, she was reminded of the importance of accepting not being able to fix the victimizer.

"I am black, of African descent, a woman, someone with a long last name, and so much more, and my seat at the table has been earned not given," Olayiwola writes. "And no racist rant can ever take that away."

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