The lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities now make up nearly 4% of the adult population in the U.S. (Gallup 2015). As healthcare providers, it is our duty to provide culturally competent care to patients with diverse values, beliefs and behaviors, and to tailor delivery to meet patients’ social and cultural needs (National Center for Cultural Competence). Gender identity and sexual orientation – just like race, ethnicity and religion – affect the way our patients perceive their health and utilize healthcare services.
For far too long, the LGBT populations have experienced discrimination and inequalities in health care. Read on to learn how you can be a part of the change.
I recently went to my second lobby day in Vermont, a state without a dental school. I accompanied nine other students from Tufts, Boston University, and Harvard to descend upon the statehouse. We all made the three-hour trip, because we understand how important it is to advocate for our patients and our profession. While we were there we met with many senators and members of the house. We discussed ways to attract more providers to increase the level of care in Vermont. Read on to learn how you can make a difference in dentistry too…
A dentist has many responsibilities. They provide dental treatment. They offer care to under-served areas. They may owe on loans and must support the salary of the team they employ. They are active in organized dentistry to protect their profession and to stay current on evidence-based dentistry. Finally, they abide by our code of ethics, which are the essential pieces to our profession. But dentistry is more than dentistry.
To me, being a leader within our community is one of our greatest responsibilities. It’s also a chance to do something else that we are passionate about. We owe ourselves time away from dentistry to de-stress. As a dental student, you can pursue these interests now.
In April, more than 380 dental students from across the country united in Washington. Students met with legislators and lobbied for the Action for Dental Health Act. H.R. 539 is a bipartisan supported bill introduced to Congress by Representative Robin Kelly from Illinois. If passed, the bill would allow nonprofit organizations to qualify for oral health grants administered by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). These grants could be used to support several programs outlined within the ADA Action for Dental Health initiative.
With so many factors that go into treatment planning (cost, insurance coverage, time requirements, length of procedures, knowledge of the treatment, fear), sometimes we may lose sight of what is best for the patient. Never make assumptions. Get to know your patients. Make sure that he or she understands what the procedure entails and is clear on the pros and cons of every treatment option. Taking the time to listen to the patient and explain all possible treatment options and ways for future prevention is paramount to treating each person in the best way possible.