HomeHealthStudy: Asian American medical students experience racism

Study: Asian American medical students experience racism

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, experiences of anti-Asian racism have become increasingly common among Asian American medical students, a new study concludes.

The Yale-led study interviewed 25 medical students from multiple Asian American communities

Students cited examples of patients accusing them of having COVID-19 and of doctors making insensitive jokes about different cultural backgrounds.

Many students felt “invisible” and underrepresented in the medical school environment where there are over 17 different populations represented under the umbrella term “Asian American.”

“We intentionally recruited students who are classically less represented in medicine, such as Vietnamese Americans and Filipino Americans, in addition to those who are more visible like Chinese Americans and Indian Americans,” said Dr. David Yang, lead author of the study, Experiences with Racism Among Asian American Medical Students Study.

According to JAMA Network’s listed study from Yang, students reported, a “barrage of microaggressions that led to feelings of ostracization in the medical community.”

Yang highlights how participants describe small amounts of Asian American experiences in the medical school curricula that created a heavy sense of isolation in their medical training.

Health Equity also reports that Asian Americans face a unique experience of representing a minority 6.5% of the U.S. population yet constituting 21% of matriculating U.S. medical students.

Yang emphasizes how “it’s important to have mental health personnel that really understand racialized experiences. Students said they felt most heard when they had a therapist who was either knowledgeable about or was open to talking about racism.”

The 25 Asian American students in the study propose ways to create a more inclusive medical school learning environment by not grouping Asian ethnicities in admissions, increasing Asian American representation among leadership and medical personnel, and adding Asian American health to the curriculum.

“This study is the first to delineate practical strategies that institutions can pursue to start mitigating the invisibility felt by many students and addressing discrimination during a formative period for students,” said Dr. Gunjan Tiyyagura, associate professor of pediatrics at Yale School of Medicine and senior author of the study.

AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. Follow us on FacebookX, InstagramTikTok and YouTube. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our efforts to produce diverse content about the AAPI communities. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.


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