Asian American medical students face racism, discrimination: Yale study

Asian American medical students face racism, discrimination: Yale study
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Bryan Ke
September 12, 2023
A new study learned that Asian American medical students often experience anti-Asian racism and discrimination from both the medical community and patients.
Details to know: The study was conducted by Dr. David Yang, who now works as a fellow in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Yale School of Medicine, to determine if the racism and discrimination against Asian Americans was widespread after he experienced it firsthand in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Who the participants were: Yang and his colleagues questioned 25 Asian American medical students from 17 different schools through online video interviews, 16 of whom were women.
Of the 25 participants in the study, eight were Chinese Americans, followed by five Korean Americans and Indian Americans each, three Vietnamese Americans, two Filipino Americans and one of each Nepalese, Pakistani and Desi Americans.
Commenting on the ethnicity: Yang, who led the study, said they “wanted to make sure” they had a “broad range of perspectives” for the study when they “intentionally recruited students who are classically less represented in medicine, such as Vietnamese Americans and Filipino Americans.”
What they found: Through the 1-on-1 interviews, Yang and his colleagues learned that the Asian American participants experienced several types of racism and discrimination, such as invisibility as a racial microaggression, with one student sharing, “It took them the whole first year to be able to tell me apart from the other Asian guy.”
In another example, one Filipino American medical student shared how a patient’s parent yelled at them, saying they did not want them to take care of their child over the fear of contracting COVID-19.
Extreme effect: Some medical students interviewed for the study reported experiencing extreme side effects brought by the racism and discrimination they experienced, such as suicidal feelings and questioning if continuing their medical studies was worth it.
Rectifying the issues: Participants reportedly offered suggestions to improve the learning environment for Asian Americans, such as increasing Asian American representation among leadership and mental health personnel.
Yang also suggests that medical school administrators communicate with their Asian American students and ask them how they can provide support for them.
If you or someone you know are experiencing depression or suicidal tendencies, please call the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or text “HOME” 741741 for the Crisis Text Line.
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