As a day surgery unit clerk at the Grey Nuns Community Hospital, Kaitlyn Mullins sees patients from all walks of life come through her doors, including those who may not identify with their gender or given name. After a day of seeing an unusually high number of patients who couldn’t list their preferred name or personal pronouns, she realized the clinic’s forms needed to be changed to make the admission process more inclusive.
“I saw firsthand the range in inclusive care our patients received (or didn’t receive) that day, and it made me realize there was a need for more education in that area,” says Kaitlyn.
During their next staff meeting, Kaitlyn took the initiative to start educating their co-workers about the importance of using a patient’s proper pronouns and name and how to add it on their chart.
“We always strive to provide the best care that we can, and a lot of times the patients are already nervous. Making sure we are inclusive helps not add any more stress to their day,” says Kaitlyn.
“There are a lot of patients who might not notice, but for the ones who do, it can make a world of difference. Providing affirming care can make a huge difference in their experience and outcomes.”
Kaitlyn recognizes that there will always be mixed reactions among staff, from excitement to learn to hesitation to change, but as she provided more resources, it became a regular discussion during staff meetings.
“I am so proud when I see my colleagues making the effort to be more inclusive with their language, for example, when someone says we test ‘people with uteruses’ rather than ‘women.’
“Everybody makes mistakes. If you accidentally use the wrong name or pronouns, quietly correct yourself and move on. If you aren’t sure, it’s totally fine to ask. Even small changes in the language you use can really make someone’s day.”