For Providers, Prism Blog

3 Ways for Healthcare Providers to Respect Diversity

  • Avoid making harmful assumptions about your patient. Whether you’re assuming they’re straight, cisgender, uneducated, dealing with addiction, or any number of things, any time you’re assuming rather than asking and listening to your patient you aren’t giving them the care they deserve. (For example, don’t ask a patient about her boyfriend when she hasn’t told you her sexuality or relationship status. In fact, personal questions like this are really only relevant if your patient brings them up first.)
  • Listen to your patient’s primary symptom and make sure to address it, regardless of other things you’ve learned (or assumed) about their health during the interview. Regardless of drug use, body size, relationship style, gender identity, mental illness, or any other issue, your patient won’t come back if you treat what you’ve decided is most pertinent to their health rather than what’s most important to them. This may seem obvious, but these kind of mistakes happen a lot. (For example, don’t treat a patient for weight loss who has come to see you for headaches!)
  • First and foremost we are here for our patients’ health and well-being. Never ask a patient about changing their lifestyle or identity. Furthermore, make sure you are not using up their valuable appointment time by trying to educate yourself. Look things up online on your own time if you need to learn more and save appointment time for your patient.
  • Provide gender neutral bathrooms. 
    • Who can benefit from gender neutral bathrooms? Parents with children of a different gender, people with an attendant of a different gender, trans* people, and individuals with non-normative gender presentations.
    • Why are gender neutral bathrooms important for trans* people? When a bathroom is gender neutral, trans* people can use it without risking harassment or violence from people who think they are in the “wrong” restroom. Access to gender neutral bathrooms also prevents UTIs and other health issues caused by “holding it” until a safer restroom is available.

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