You’re a nurse—the very definition of empathy and encouragement. You believe in the importance of inclusion, care, and above all else, respect. Ensuring that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, or Asexual (LGBTQIA+) individuals have access to the care that they need is an essential part of providing healthcare. While the future of healthcare evolves towards comprehensive awareness and inclusive care, there are plenty of things you can do to make sure you deliver the best care possible.
According to the nation’s largest LGBTQIA+ civil rights organization, The Human Rights Campaign, LGBTQIA+ patients face unique barriers to accessing healthcare. The Lambda Legal group found that 56% of lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals report serious discrimination cases when receiving healthcare and 70% of transgender patients report discrimination. In 2020, The Human Rights Campaign’s Healthcare Equality Index reported that only 67% of participating hospitals were found to have a “patient non-discrimination policy that includes both “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.”” Of these same hospitals, only 63% had an LGBTQIA+ inclusive employment non-discrimination policy in place.
In order to provide basic care to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA+) patients it is essential to understand key terms. While providing great care requires more than just awareness of terms, a clinician’s knowledge of relevant terms reflects their dedication and respect for their patients. Below are introductory guides and definitions for you to review and implement into your practice.
Facilities across the nation are evolving to meet the needs of their patients by creating an inclusive environment and educating their staff on how to provide inclusive care. This may look like using gender-neutral language, having unisex restrooms, providing health education literature with inclusive and diverse information, hiring a diverse staff, and providing training for LGBTQIA+ care.
Show commitment to your patients by becoming aware of resources specifically designed for LGBTQIA+ patients and making referrals as appropriate. It is your role to be a patient advocate and ensure that all patients are treated with respect and dignity.
It is important that everyone feels safe and comfortable when they show up for work. Creating an inclusive workplace allows individuals to be seen as themselves and thrive in their healthcare careers. These healthcare providers are then equipped to make meaningful connections with their coworkers and patients. Here are some tips for establishing a safe workplace environment:
Working within the healthcare industry means working with a diverse patient base. Help eliminate barriers to healthcare for LGBTQIA+ patients by expanding your competence and understanding of LGBTQIA+ concepts and terminology. In your workplace, allow your coworkers to be themselves so that your team can thrive in their careers. To provide effective care, all healthcare workers should strive to gain cultural competency and continue to educate themselves on how to provide the best care.