News ID: 89960
Publish Date : 07 May 2021 - 20:51
NEW YORK (AP) — Medical student Natty Jumreornvong has a vaccine and protective gear to shield her from the coronavirus. But she couldn’t avoid exposure to the anti-Asian bigotry that pulsed to the surface after the pathogen was first identified in China.
Psychiatry patients have called her by a racist slur for the disease, she said. A bystander spat at the Thai-born student to "go back to China” as she left a New York City hospital where she’s training.
And as she walked there in scrubs Feb. 15, a man came up to her, snarled "Chinese virus,” took her cellphone and dragged her on a sidewalk, said Jumreornvong, who reported the attack to police. The investigation is ongoing.
For health care workers of Asian and Pacific Islander descent, "it seems like we’re fighting multiple battles at the same time — not just COVID-19, but also racism,” says Jumreornvong, a student at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have faced a tide of harassment and attacks in many settings during the pandemic. But those in health care are feeling the particular, jarring anguish of being racially targeted because of the virus while toiling to keep people from dying of it.
People of Asian and Pacific Islander descent make up about 6% to 8% of the U.S. population but a greater share of some health care professions, including around 20% of non-surgeon physicians and pharmacists and 12% to 15% of surgeons, physical therapists and physician assistants, according to federal statistics.
Before the pandemic, studies found that 31% to 50% of doctors of Asian heritage experienced on-the-job discrimination ranging from patients refusing their care to difficulty finding mentors. That’s a lower proportion than Black physicians, but higher than Hispanic and white doctors, according to a 2020 study that reviewed existing research. In a separate 2020 study of medical residents, all those of Asian heritage said patients had quizzed them about their ethnicity.
Columbia University medical student Hueyjong "Huey” Shih recalls being confronted with "a lot of assumptions, all boiled into one very inappropriate question” from a colleague in a hospital: Was Shih an only child because of China’s former one-child policy?
During the pandemic, former President Donald Trump repeatedly called COVID-19 the "China virus” and by other terms that activists say fanned anger at Asian Americans.
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