Current AUA student Hannah Choi’s essay, “A Lesson in Bias and Compassion,” was recently published by the American College of Physicians.
In the piece, Hannah recounts her experience with an eccentric patient—referred to as “Ms. A”—who has a long history of both soft and hard drug use. Ms. A complained of weakness in her knees and some loss of balance.
Ms. A initially received a less-than-thorough diagnosis from Hannah, who realized, “…I had formed biases against this patient from the beginning because of her appearance, her speech, and her history of substance use. I was also reflexively accessing memories of a previous encounter when I felt duped by a malingering patient with a history of substance use presenting with similar symptoms.”
It was a new attending who opened Hannah’s eyes to this bias by asking Ms. A questions without prejudice and giving careful thought to each answer. “He taught me through this encounter and many others that competence in a physician comes not only from experience and knowledge but also from an unbiased evaluation of a patient and that the ability to perform an unbiased evaluation comes from compassion toward patients.”
AUA is most impressed with Hannah’s candor in relating this story, and congratulates her on the publication of her essay, which can be read in its entirety here.