Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) issued administrative rules Tuesday requiring “implicit bias” training for all medical professionals in the state.
Whitmer said at the announcement of the training, which is intended to identify one’s biases, is mandatory annually in order to maintain a professional license and must be conducted by a health organization, a “diversity and inclusion” organization, an accredited college, or state or federal agency.
Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Director Orlene Hawks said, “disparities in health outcomes” during the coronavirus pandemic required “emergency action.”
Lieutenant Gov. Garlin Gilchrist (D) argued the training is necessary because the healthcare system was “designed by men with indifference to the experiences of people who do not look or live like them,” which he called a “terrible past.”
After Gilchrist said both he and the governor participated in the training after she mandated it for state employees, he added, “Implicit, unconscious bias exists within each of us and it is not limited to race.”
He said public servants have a “duty” to understand how their biases “impact others.”
When it came time to answer questions, Whitmer was asked about the training she underwent herself:
“What can you tell us about what you learned about your own implicit biases?” the reporter said.
“I think it’s, you know, it’s very helpful to, um, you know, you go through a number of exercises and you make choices and then you get an opportunity for feedback,” she said.
“Um, I was, you know, I, I learned something every single day. I think, you know, as evolving humans we should all strive to learn something every single day,” she continued.
“This implicit bias training that we have for state employees I thought was comprehensive,” she said, adding it took her about an hour and a half to complete.
“Going through real world exercises that might happen in an office setting or might happen on the road, um, was really helpful to take that pause, that I think everyone needs to take on occasion and really understand what’s happening here and why so we can do better,” she concluded.
An aide interjected and said one more question was allowed. The reporter did not press for an answer.