Skip to content

News/The Significance of LGBTQ+ Provider Presence in Hospitals and Its Impact on LGBTQ+ Patient Advocacy

The Significance of LGBTQ+ Provider Presence in Hospitals and Its Impact on LGBTQ+ Patient Advocacy

June 7, 2024

Why LGBTQ+ Healthcare Providers Matter

In recognition of Pride Month, we sat down with Patrick Decker-Tonnesen, Ph.D., M.S.W. (he/him), an Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Advisor at Mayo Clinic. Dr. Decker-Tonnesen holds a Doctorate in Social Work from Loyola University Chicago, where he focused on the experiences of individuals with historically marginalized identities. Additionally, he has earned a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Certificate from the University of South Florida.

Dr. Decker-Tonnesen shared his insights on the importance of LGBTQ+ healthcare providers and their impact on patient advocacy in the following Q&A session:

Question: Why is it important to have LGBTQ+ healthcare providers in hospitals and healthcare settings?

Dr. Decker-Tonneson: “LGBTQ+ healthcare providers play a crucial role in the healthcare sector because they help ensure that the voices, experiences and perspectives of LGBTQ+ patients are included in care delivery. For example, an LGBTQ+ provider—based on their own lived experiences receiving healthcare—may be able to help hospitals and healthcare systems safeguard practices and policies that are inclusive to LGBTQ+ patients and reduce harm.”

Question: How can the presence of LGBTQ+ physicians contribute to creating a more inclusive and affirming healthcare environment for LGBTQ+ patients?

Dr. Decker-Tonneson: “As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, seeing LGBTQ+ staff or allies sharing their pronouns or wearing progress flag stickers makes me feel more comfortable and valued. These gestures help me feel seen and reduce my fear of judgment or discrimination, allowing for more transparency about my health experiences.”

Question: What specific challenges do LGBTQ+ patients face in healthcare settings, and how can LGBTQ+ healthcare providers help address these challenges?

Dr. Decker-Tonneson: “Stigma, stereotypes and discrimination can be common in the LGBTQ+ patient experience, including being misgendered, called the wrong name or identified by incorrect pronouns. LGBTQ+ healthcare staff often address these microaggressions and help educate their colleagues on inclusivity. While their role is crucial, I feel that it’s also important for heterosexual and/or cisgender staff learn about LGBTQ+ inclusive care and support inclusive practices.”

Question: What roles do LGBTQ+ clinicians play in advocating for LGBTQ+ patients within hospital systems and the broader healthcare community?

Dr. Decker-Tonneson: “LGBTQ+ clinicians can support LGBTQ+ patients by being active voices and participants in their communities. For example, if I know my queer friend had a positive experience at a clinic with an LGBTQ+ clinician, I would be more likely to visit that clinic. The LGBTQ+ community is tight-knit, and providers often have opportunities to promote their institution’s work in shared spaces.”

Question: What are the positive outcomes and improvements in patient care and advocacy that result from having LGBTQ+ providers on staff?

Dr. Decker-Tonneson: “Research shows that LGBTQ+ populations are more likely to experience mental health issues and certain health conditions. LGBTQ+ providers can make a significant difference for patients and colleagues by providing shared experiences and understanding. This is especially crucial for LGBTQ+ youth, who are often exploring and understanding their identities. Seeing compassionate, culturally competent LGBTQ+ providers can save lives.”

Question: How can hospitals and healthcare organizations support and encourage the recruitment and retention of LGBTQ+ healthcare professionals?

Dr. Decker-Tonneson: “I haven’t seen statistics on the presence of LGBTQ+ individuals in healthcare leadership positions, but I would venture to say it is quite low. I believe that healthcare institutions can recruit and retain LGBTQ+ staff by showing their representation in leadership roles. This helps potential recruits see that the institution values the skills and experiences of LGBTQ+ staff. Visible demonstrations, like participating in local Pride events, also show an organization’s commitment to this community.”

Dr. Decker-Tonnesen’s perspective is helpful for hospitals and healthcare settings aiming to provide a more inclusive and affirming environment for LGBTQ+ patients.

Apply Today

Already have an account? Sign in

Create Account

CCPA Privacy Notice for Job Applicants

Related posts

Ingenovis Health Announces 2023 Scholarship Winners

Ingenovis Health Announces 2023 Scholarship Winners

Jan 23, 2024

Ingenovis Health Celebrates Founders' Day

Ingenovis Health Celebrates Founders' Day

Mar 5, 2024

Ingenovis Health's Guide to Managing a Contingent Nurse Workforce

Ingenovis Health's Guide to Managing a Contingent Nurse Workforce

Apr 9, 2024