Doctors Experience Discrimination Too

Doctors Experience Discrimination Too

Doctors Aren’t Immune to the Disease of Discrimination

When people discuss doctor discrimination, most assume discrimination enacted by a doctor to a patient. However, discrimination experienced by doctors is a much less popular topic. After all, doctors usually occupy the stereotype of benevolent and efficient healer, impervious to the prejudice of the patient.

Reality reveals that doctors often experience workplace discrimination, too. In fact, recent surveys illuminate a high percentage of doctors experiencing discrimination from patients and workplaces. No one is exempt from discrimination.

Call Pittsburgh
(412) 626-5626
Call Philadelphia
(215) 618-9185
Email KM&A

What Do Surveys Say About Doctor Discrimination?

The journal Academic Medicine published a survey of Stanford pediatric residents responding to questions about discrimination. According to the survey, approximately 15% of pediatric residents experienced patient prejudice. The journal called for strategies for handling discrimination experienced by doctors.

The study also revealed that discrimination against doctors based on race or gender is far too common. Almost 60% of doctors in training shared that they’ve experienced mistreatment, harassment, or discrimination. Of course, these situations differ hospital to hospital; however, the root of the problem is the same: discrimination against doctors.

It’s Not Just About Discrimination

Sometimes it’s about more than discrimination–sometimes it’s the fact that, despite your vital work as a doctor, someone whether a coworker, nurse, or patient thinks it’s okay to harass, discredit, or mock you.

Medical establishments are nothing without their doctors. Your reputation as a high net worth doctor with years of education and experience sets you apart. You should be treated with respect and deference. Speak with an executive employment lawyer today if you are dealing with harassment, discrimination, or a hostile work environment.

The Mom Doctor Faces Pregnancy and Workplace Discrimination

Everyone knows that becoming a doctor requires hard work, but a rare few recognize that staying a doctor demands a whole lot more work, especially when the doctor is a woman. Earlier in 2017, a survey questioned 6,000 women physicians about workplace discrimination. Results showed that 78 percent had experienced some type of discrimination while working. Gender discrimination was reported by 66% while maternal discrimination was recognized by 35% of the women.

Unfortunately,  many female doctors reported that they had received disrespectful treatment from colleagues, nurses, and other administrative staff. Meanwhile, the inequality in pay and benefits between male and female colleagues continues.

Ironically, female doctors, who often encourage patients to breastfeed their children, are unable to breastfeed their own children due to work requirements or lack of accommodation.

Due to the discrimination laws on gender and pregnancy, most workplaces are obligated to eradicate discrimination from the hierarchy of the healthcare practice and offer work accommodation to doctors who are or have been pregnant. Not doing so is illegal.

Discrimination Faced By Minority Doctors

Doctors of different minorities within the healthcare field often face patient discrimination and slower career advancement. While some patients are belligerent, others quietly request a different doctor of their own coloring. Sadly, the racial climate for health providers is often overlooked.

A study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2000, revealed that despite maintaining a normal productivity rate, black and other minority doctors gained promotion at a much slower rate than white colleagues.

Although this is the norm for the medical profession, discrimination based on ethnicity or color is illegal. Therefore, health practices not only need to equally promote qualified individuals but also need to learn how to handle discrimination from patients.

Religious Discrimination Against Doctors

Within the medical profession, discrimination occurs for religious beliefs as well. Some patients refuse to allow doctors of certain beliefs to handle themselves or a loved one in need of care. Not only is the experiencing degrading to doctors, but it’s stirring a need for responsive procedures.

For example, a CNN article titled “Racism in medicine: An ‘open’ secret” takes a closer look at race discrimination that doctors experience (2016).

In one situation, at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, an intern reported a situation to a supervising doctor, “the dad just looked at my name tag and asked, ‘Oh, is that a Jewish last name? I don’t want a Jewish doctor.’”

Although the intern isn’t Jewish, the supervising doctor, Dr. Emily Whitgob, is Jewish.

Religious discrimination is a legal protected class and is illegal according to the law. Therefore, healthcare practices and doctors must find ways to respond to illegal discrimination within the workplace.

Male Doctor Discrimination in OB-GYN

More recently, reverse discrimination broke out in the gynecologist arena as more and more male doctors report incidents of discrimination. Since female patients tend to request female doctors for their regular OB-GYN appointments, male doctors are less likely hired.

“No uterus. No opinion.” A line spoken by Rachel on the popular TV show FRIENDS has become a banner for women.

But doctors argue that it’s unrealistic for patients to want their doctors to have personally dealt with a problem. After all, a heart surgeon is not expected to have experienced heart surgery to be a good heart surgeon. Personal experience of a problem doesn’t trump experience through education and training.

The bias for female doctors in gynecology defines every step of the schooling process, residency, and job search for males. Although the market drives this preference, doctors rumble for a change. After all, this is gender discrimination.

Labor Attorneys

What Doctors Can Do To Deal With Workplace Discrimination

Dealing with discrimination in the workplace is frustrating, but handling discrimination in an emergency situation requires calm and professionalism. Of course, discrimination unsettles the most suave individuals. Therefore, knowing response tactics before facing actual workplace discrimination can help doctors respond well in volatile situations.

1. Ignore discriminatory comments during an emergency.

When immediate healthcare is urgently required,  a doctor needs to prioritize response. If the patient or loved one of the patient makes an inappropriate remark during an emergency, the doctor’s responsibility is to stabilize the patient first and foremost.

2. Re-focus on the goal of treatment.

In a non-emergency situation, the doctor has a chance to respond to discriminatory remarks by reminding everyone of the end goal of successful treatment for the ill individual. Sometimes, a loud patient only needs a reminder of this priority.

3. Remember that discrimination is the patient’s issue.

Often, it’s far too easy for individuals to internalize hurtful statements. Doctors need to learn how to re-frame the situation and recognize that the person with the discriminatory remarks has the problem. A healthy processing of the situation will help the doctor continue professionally.

4. The medical practice should offer support to medical personnel.

The tone set by the medical practice often encourages safety or breeds insecurity. Therefore, the practice, whether private or public, should acknowledge race matters and the effects on the work setting.

5. Identify and address discriminatory issues.

A proactive workplace that allows for safe conversation about what discriminatory problems are arising creates a safe environment for legally protected classes. When problems are addressed, solutions can be found.

6. Promote honesty and understanding when discussing issues involving discrimination.

When this conversation is approached with humility, defensiveness often melts away. Knowing how to approach an uncomfortable topic often defuses the situation rather than amplifying it further.

7. Develop workplace procedures for dealing with discrimination.

Every level of employee should understand the company procedure for handling discrimination. Healthcare providers are encouraged to establish policies on how to interact with patients who discriminate against healthcare personnel.

While most healthcare providers maintain policies for discrimination between staff members, many lack clear procedures for dealing with patients who discriminate against staff. Medical journals suggest that when a patient discriminates against medical staff and refuses to change his or her behavior that the medical staff member should transfer the patient’s care. Medical practices that lack clear guidelines risk legal action.


If you are a medical professional and you have experienced discrimination from a patient without any response from your employer, contact a discrimination lawyer.

Speak with a discrimination attorney: (412) 626-5626 or