It is unfortunate, but in addition to racism rearing its ugly head everywhere in every other arena, it is also rampantly seen in the medical field. Racism in healthcare is what is referred to as the “open secret,” since patients have refused treatment from doctors and nurses that look differently than they do for many years.


(Penguin/Random House)

It is an “open secret” in that the racist incident is often followed by widely publicized lawsuits against the hospital by medical professionals who are discriminated against. They suffer unnecessary damage to their reputations in the process, but they do it to take a stand against an injustice that has kept repeating itself time and again throughout history.


The racist patient gives little attention to the quality of care the person is capable of, they can only see color. They fail to recognize how highly dedicated and even highly complimented the person may be in their profession of nurse or physician. They refuse to understand the level of training that person received, the long hours spent studying, and even dreaming of one day being able to help people – even racist people like them.  


In the book, “Small Great Things,” author Jodi Picoult doesn’t shy away from showing just how ugly racism in medicine can be. The book highlights Ruth, a 20-plus year nurse who works with newborns. Ruth is a mother who loves her children and enjoys her career. She worked hard to become a nurse and has had to face discrimination every step of the way. How can she allow someone with a racist mentality to take away everything she has worked so hard for?


Picoult, age 50, is a bestselling award-winning author whose last eight novels have topped the New York Times Bestseller list. Picoult’s style is said to be one that informs the reader while sharing a story that the reader will not want to put down. “Small Great Things” is no exception. She and her husband Tim live in New Hampshire with their three children, and many animals. “Small Great Things” is published by Penguin Random House and is available for purchase here.


Have you witnessed or experienced racism in the medical profession? Let’s discuss here or on Twitter: @lcarterwriter.