UW Department of Family Medicine and Community Health
The model minority stereotype is pervasive and cuts across all fields, including health. A few years ago, after several visits to the Emergency Room and then to Urgent Care (over a 5-day period), I was sent back to the ER for a CT scan to confirm the UC physician’s diagnosis of my condition. However, the ER physicians were not convinced of the condition that the CT scan confirmed. Their implicit biases about Asian-Americans as a model minority who do not have significant health problems prompted them to call another specialty department to examine me (twice). As the ER physicians discussed my case (in front of me), their main argument was that I was not white and therefore, assumed that I did not eat “American” food but rather ethnic foods, which they considered to be healthier. So, what I heard was, “she’s too young, too thin, not white, and doesn’t eat American food…” Thankfully, they DID start me on a round of two different antibiotics to treat my condition as they discussed this (I was pretty sick with a fever). Implicit biases, racial stereotypes, and microaggression in play in this situation.