Guest Judges Comments:

The essay on “Bias and how it affects patient care” excels in terms of relevance and interest, presenting engaging content. It maintains an impressive level of clarity and readability. Notably, this essay stands out in patient-centeredness and consideration of societal issues, making it an essential contribution to healthcare ethics and patient care discussions. It introduces ethical questions and creative ideas, enhancing the depth of the conversation.

Dr Neal Russell, Paediatric Advisor, Médecins Sans Frontières 

Neal is a paediatrician. He has been working with MSF for the last ten years, as well as in the NHS, and in research into antibiotic resistance in newborn infections.

Eric Stobbaerts, International Development Director, DNDi

Eric, an experienced global health leader, has spearheaded Latin American initiatives against neglected diseases, enhancing the region’s public health impact. His 20-year tenure with Médecins Sans Frontières encompassed crisis management and organisational leadership, making significant contributions to global health and medical innovation.



Group of men talking and writing.

Scholarship Winner Comments

I decided to submit an essay for the Immerse Competition because writing has always been one of my favorite activities.  Moreover, I also saw an  incredible opportunity to write about a relevant topic of my country which deserves global attention.  In the beginning, I thought it was a distant goal and that I wasn’t capable. However, I felt motivated to write when my mother encouraged me, saying, ‘To know the result, you have only to try’.The ‘Referencing Guidance’ was especially useful, teaching me how to use the Oxford referencing style effectively. Additionally, the ‘Top Tips for Writing an Academic Essay’ document proved to be a valuable tool throughout the writing process.

The Winning Essay:
What Is Bias, and How Can it Affect Patient Care?

Bias – particularly cognitive bias – can be perceived as an algorithm of the mind1 .It’s a systematic pattern of deviation from norm or rationality in judgment and implies an unreasoned and unfair distortion in favor of or against a person or thing2. This essay provides an overview of bias, elucidates the different types of bias, and discusses the potential consequences – and opportunities – bias creates the medical field.

One can distinguish two categories of bias: conscious bias, where people hold explicit beliefs about other groups, manifesting in e.g. racism, sexism, Islamophobia – and unconscious bias. As a cognitive skill, based on a simplified information processing strategy called heuristics,unconscious bias is supposed to help us evaluate information according to how we perceive these through the lens of our values and beliefs, and enable swift judgments and decisions. It however can lead to perceptual distortion, inaccurate judgment, illogical interpretation, and irrationality4. Cognitive biases, such as the availability and affective bias also often cause misdiagnoses, as they cause clinicians to focus on the patient’s initial impressions5.

There are numerous variations of cognitive bias – consequently – no individual is immune to the effects of it. In the realm of healthcare, this can lead to medical personnel unwittingly fueling healthcare disparities, which often leads to patient discomfort or even wrong treatment decisions6. Dr. Lucille Perez, an alumna at the NYMC, was an attending physician at Gouverneur Hospital in Manhattan. She had to treat people with lots of dissimilar cultures and backgrounds. Through this, over time she noticed how she unconsciously practiced racism towards African American people. Dr. Perez worked on changing her behavior, as she felt that this way, she can become a better doctor.

A report from the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) demonstrates that “racial and ethnic minorities receive lower-quality health care than white people – even when insurance status, income, age, and severity of conditions are comparable “7.  Another study of 400 hospitals in the US indicates how certain patient groups acquire cheaper and more conservative treatments than others do8. A good example for social bias is the fact that gendered norms are also often consolidated by hegemonic masculinity and andronormativity which results in men ending up getting more feeble pain treatments than they require9, which basically manifests in the clichés humans create.

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