Gender-Inclusive Patient Care
In a patient care setting you will continuously meet new people. Your patient population will likely include all forms of differences, including gender and identity differences. Let’s discuss some ways to keep your practice inclusive, to better serve your queer/gender non-conforming patients.
You know what happens when you assume – so don’t do it. It is not possible to look at someone and know exactly who they are… what pronouns they use, who their partner(s) might be, and what their family might look like. Sometimes this information won’t be relevant to patient care (so don’t pry). But if it is, there are ways that support all patients with fewer assumptions.
- Model inclusiveness. Use your pronouns (ex: “she/her” or “he/they”) in an email tagline, on your employee badge, on Zoom/Teams, in presentations, or in other areas where you might meet someone new. This offers an environment where pronouns aren’t assumed and may encourage a patient to feel comfortable sharing their pronouns.
- Talk about it. In some situations, it is appropriate to discuss it. For example, I might start an initial introduction with “I’m Dr. Ostlie, I use she/her pronouns” (please note that this does not obligate a patient to share anything, simply creates an opportunity). Or I might ask “How do you prefer to be addressed?”.
- Know your resources. Some medical records have a built-in avenue for patients to fill in their own information. They might be able to add a preferred name, gender identity, or other disclosures. Talk with your employer about where you might find that information.
- Practice gender-neutral and inclusive language. In most circumstances, gendered language is not needed. Swapping out gendered language for neutral or inclusive language is a great way to avoid assumptions. For example:
- Neutral language:
- Parent instead of mother/father
- Sibling instead of sister/brother
- Spouse or partner instead of wife/husband
- Inclusive language:
- “Pregnant person” instead of “pregnant woman”
- Neutral language:
If you’d like to better understand gender identity, check out this resource or visit the Academy’s DEI web page and/or the national SAA’s DEI web page. You can also watch a recording of national SAA’s panel interview on creating an LGBTQ+ inclusive space here. Thank you for all that you do for audiology patients!
Sarah Ostlie, AuD, CH-AP (she/her)
SAA Advisory Committee Chair
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