Implicit bias training in a residency program: Aiming for enduring effects

Michelle D. Sherman, Jason A. Ricco, Stephen C. Nelson, Sheila J. Nezhad, Shailendra Prasad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Implicit bias often affects patient care in insidious ways, and has the potential for significant damage. Several educational interventions regarding implicit bias have been developed for health care professionals, many of which foster reflection on individual biases and encourage personal awareness. In an attempt to address racism and other implicit biases at a more systemic level in our family medicine residency training program, our objectives were to offer and evaluate parallel trainings for residents and faculty by a national expert. METHODS: The trainings addressed how both personal biases and institutional inequities contribute to structural racism, and taught skills for managing instances of implicit biases in one’s professional interactions. The training was deliberately designed to increase institutional capacity to engage in crucial conversations regarding implicit bias. Six months after the trainings, an external evaluator conducted two separate 1-hour focus groups, one with residents (n=18) and one with program faculty and leadership (n=13). RESULTS: Four themes emerged in the focus groups: increased awareness of and commitment to addressing racial bias; appreciation of a safe forum for sharing concerns; new ways of addressing and managing bias; and institutional capacity building for continued vigilance and training regarding implicit bias. CONCLUSIONS: Both residents and faculty found this training to be important and empowering. All participants desired an ongoing programmatic commitment to the topic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)677-681
Number of pages5
JournalFamily medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors received a Herz Faculty Development Award from the University of Minnesota in support of this project. The authors thank Renee Crichlow, MD, Erica Gathje, MD, Tanner Nissly, DO and Michael Wootten, MD, for their support of this project.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Society of Teachers of Family Medicine. All rights reserved.


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