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Today’s divisive political climate and our ability to treat our patients without bias

Politics are divisive. That should not be a shock to anyone. However, the political climate in the USA at the moment is more than just divisive.  Lately, I have noticed that there is an underlying disdain for those we disagree with in a way that even my grandparents say they have never seen in this country. The current political climate pervades nearly every aspect of our society, from pop culture to sports, both once safe havens from the stressors of everyday life. Now, more than ever, they are political platforms, constantly reminding us of our differences and cementing our conviction of contempt for the other side of the aisle. But how far can these issues truly pervade? Could political differences lead us as health care providers to view our patients differently? Could they create inner biases that lead to poorer patient outcomes?

As a medical student, my life is consumed by medicine. However, as a third-year medical student at George Washington University in Washington DC, my life is consumed by medicine and politics, sometimes in equal proportions. As an example, Alice Chen, the former executive director of Doctors For America and wife of former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy was my attending on my medicine rotation when I heard two back-to-back trauma calls over the intercom at the hospital one morning. Within minutes I had learned that the patients coming in were involved in a mass shooting at a congressional baseball practice in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, VA, just blocks from where I live.

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