Professionals Weigh in on How Black Women Can Traverse the Healthcare System

Steering the healthcare system can be oppugning for anyone. It can be particularly problematic for Black women due to systemic racism and inferential bias. Because of the huge underrepresentation of Black and brown medical specialists, Black women often experience prejudice and mistreatment within the healthcare ecosystem. This leads to poor health outcomes and a lack of trust in medical specialists. However, there are ways Black women can steer the healthcare system and ensure they get the care and medicine they require.

Locate a Reliable Doctor

The foremost step in navigating the healthcare system is finding a responsible doctor. This can be a challenge, and not all doctors are prepared to recognize and address the unique healthcare conditions of Black women. However, finding a doctor who attends to you, takes your concerns seriously, and respects your opinions and values is essential. You should quickly switch doctors if you are uneasy with your current provider.

Acclimate a Holistic Practice

Multiple factors contribute to a healthy pregnancy. Historically, the medical approach has often needed to do a thorough job of demonstrating that. Beth Ann Clayton is an American Association of Anesthesiology specialist and Nurse Anesthesia Program Director for the University of Cincinnati (UC). She says a holistic approach is required.

“To steer structural racism and prejudice, Black mothers and their healthcare givers should take a holistic technique to the mother’s pregnancy and postpartum supervision, keeping in mind any underlying medical disorders and family history that may affect birth,” stated Clayton. “This all starts with trust among the care team and mother, as well as standardized regulations in how we as healthcare professionals tend for our patients.”

Champion For Yourself

It can get daunting to speak up in the presence of medical specialists. For some, it may feel those associated with the medical field have the “higher ground” as they are more knowledgeable about specific problems. It is essential to advocate for yourself despite any distress or insecurity, and Clayton says doing so can make or break your healthcare opportunities.

“From my standpoint, it is first and foremost the responsibility of the healthcare provider to help Black women in steering the healthcare system and delivering them the knowledge and care they need,” stated Clayton. Though the healthcare system is working to handle systemic barriers, I motivate my Black patients to stay apprised, advocate for themselves, ask questions to their healthcare provider, and articulate when they feel their voice isn’t being listened.”

Accomplish Your Investigation

To fight the racial and bias-related barriers in many healthcare settings, it is important to conduct research before seeking medical awareness. Several studies have shown that Black women are more probable to experience racism and bias in healthcare environments. These covert or overt displays of prejudice can lead to misdiagnosis, inadequate treatment, and a lack of access to essential healthcare services.

Dr. Megan Pickens, CEO of The Volition Collective, communicates medical bias is harmful.

“The US healthcare system is embedded in systemic racism and the false impression that you, as a Black woman, can take more pain, founded on barbaric research,” stated Pickens. “Before you devote yourself to a medical facility, do your research, and also research medical experts you may have to deal with. Check their reviews and look for license infractions and board complaints.”

Pickens also urges Black women to be assertive when they have a gut feeling that something is incorrect.

“Stand your ground when requesting care. If you have a symptom that affects you, ask for a referral, in-network, or the testing you need. If your doctor often ignores your legitimate concerns, change your physician.”