A Texas nurse said she was fired for refusing to take implicit bias training, claiming that states across the U.S. are forcing healthcare professionals to “make false confessions of racism,” and that she “refused to go along.”
Laura Morgan, RN, said that she was let go from Dallas-based Baylor Scott & White Health in February, months after the organization put forth its annual training modules for clinical educators. She said that she had expressed concern about the required implicit bias training, and requested meetings with her employer’s chief nursing officer and human resources director so she could be exempt.
“After 39 years of providing equal care to all my patients without regard to their race, I objected to a mandatory course grounded in the idea that I’m racist because I’m white,” Morgan wrote in an opinion piece published in the Wall Street Journal. “The idea of implicit bias is grounded in the belief that white people treat those who aren’t white worse than those who are. It’s part of the woke assumption that society, including healthcare, suffers from ‘systemic racism.'”
“Policy makers don’t seem to be considering the unintended consequences of these mandates,” she continued. “Accusing my peers and me of racism will contribute to soaring levels of burnout, causing many to leave the medical profession. Some, like me, will surely be forced out. Patients, especially minorities, will experience the most harm.”
Ultimately, Morgan said that she knew her termination was looming after it became evident she would not be exempt from the implicit bias training at Baylor Scott & White. However, she said that she was still “devastated” when she was fired and could not find a new healthcare job.
Morgan expressed concern about the growing number of her peers who may be forced out of the field for sharing her view, citing a continuing-education course on implicit bias through the Kentucky Board of Nursing and requirements for such training in states like Michigan and Massachusetts. She also wrote that more state mandates are likely on the way, “including in red states,” and that implicit bias training has garnered support from powerful medical associations.
There is not “sufficient evidence to support the claim that all white people are implicitly biased,” and there is research that indicates “implicit bias testing is flawed,” she said.
However, many other organizations and experts flatly disagree with Morgan’s stance. They continue to hold that implicit bias is what is in fact harming patients, and that such findings have been behind a nationwide push for training — supported by many on both sides of the political aisle — to help chip away at the issue.
Groups including the Federation of State Medical Boards have highlighted how COVID-19 has shed further light on longstanding healthcare disparities across the country, and they have taken new measures to understand and address systemic racism, implicit bias, and inequity in medical regulation and care.
Morgan’s former employer told MedPage Today in a statement: “Baylor Scott & White Health believes in the importance of, and is committed to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives; and it believes in providing its team members resources for continual development.”
Morgan is now a program manager at an organization called Do No Harm, which states that its mission is to “protect healthcare from a radical, divisive, and discriminatory ideology.”
Morgan told MedPage Today in an email that it was important for her to write and publish the opinion piece “because requirements to complete this type of ‘education’ in order to start or keep a career or obtain a license in the healthcare industry are increasing across the country.”
“There has been a substantial outpouring of support for my position on this issue from healthcare providers and the public since its publication in the Wall Street Journal,” she said.