Pride in health care during Pride Month: Are we ready for a dignified health care for LGBTQI+ patients?

Pride.jpeg

(Tanushree Rao, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Wiktoria Izdebska, a 2nd year medical student of Medical University of Białystok, Poland. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


June is a beautiful month not only due to summer weather in Poland but also because Pride Month takes over the entire world. Millions of pictures with #Pride, art happenings and parades are only few ways of celebrating it. But what should be equally important for a medical student is to think about health care that is suitable for LBGTQI+ people and their needs.  

A perfect health care system? I imagine it as a system where individual no matter how different from a “coursebook statistical patient” doesn’t feel judged. A health care system in which a patient can feel comfortable or uncomfortable with particular procedures yet doesn’t have to feel ashamed to say it. A system where patients are treated with sufficient knowledge about LGBTQI+ health and given attention and time.

Ways of reaching such health care system are various, however, every change begins with a new mindset. Providing us change the approach of health care works, show them their prejudice and stereotypes we can begin to build a new heath care.

Every small step matters. A great example for „language sensitivity” was a lecture and workshops by Prof. Dr. Jochen Sven Utikal about 2012 Nobel Prize in Medicine. In his lecture he used a language that didn’t stigmatised the patient despite their disfiguring dermatological conditions and was perfectly gender neutral.

Furthermore, meeting Dr. Alexis C Johnson, the creator of Pineapple Laboratories, and discussing the gender and health issues was a real blessing not only for me but also for many other participants of the discussion during the Theme Event on IFMSA March Meeting General Assembly. A moment when many future doctors started to perceive LGBTQI+ patients as people who deserve changes to get dignified health care. Various conferences about LGBTQI+ Health are held every year, especially in the USA- such as: SoCal LGBTQI+ Health Conference in Irvine and GLMA Conference on LGBTQ Health in New Orleans.

So how exactly can we change health care systems around the world to provide LGBTQI+ patients with what they need and deserve? First of all, by spreading the conversation. Perhaps creating LGBTQI+ conferences in other countries, hopefully also in my homeland, Poland. Making workshops for doctors and medical students on language sensitivity, doctor-patient communication and health difficulties of LGBTQI+ patients. I believe in changes performed one step at a time like a change in every day communication routine of health care works.

Are we ready to provide a respectful, non-discrimatory health care? I don’t know. Yet there is a lot happening in this matter. Every time a patient enters our office we can try to make a difference in our communication and encourage other colleagues to do the same. I once read a quote: „The equality starts when the dialogue about it ends”. I hope that one day LGBTQI+ people will no longer be a contriversy for anyone, then I could say that we are equal.

About the author

Wiktoria Izdebska is a 2nd year medical student of Medical University of Białystok, She has been a member of IFMSA since first year of her studies, currently holding a position of NOME Assistant and Local Coordinator on Students Associations. Her hobbies are jazz and travelling. In her spare time, she sails, swims and dances salsa. She does not yet now which medical specialty she would choose but she is definitely willing to live a life in service to other people, especially children. She believes that a creative idea and a hard-working team is enough to create the biggest projects and change the world.

 

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