Early in April, 2020 I was about three weeks into my state’s “safer at home” plan during the COVID-19 pandemic. I was also about three weeks out of arriving home early from the Great Lakes Athletic Trainers’ Association’s (GLATA) Annual Business Meeting and Symposium. I was anticipating a lengthy “safer at home” stay and hoping opportunities would present themselves to stay connected to the athletic training community and keep myself inspired.
What was the volunteer opportunity?
The volunteer project was an opportunity that presented itself by the NATA LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee (AC) District 4 Representative. The committee was preparing for the upcoming Pride Month in June, 2020 and was seeking volunteers to create content to be shared on social media during the month. The committee had prepared a list of relevant LGBTQ+ topics and simply asked for volunteers to help create the content. I created the graphic image in the tweet below.
Why did I volunteer for the opportunity?
I enjoy the challenge of advocacy and I have a wide range of topics that I enjoy advocating for. I also have a passion for volunteering.
I have been fascinated with Pride Month for some time. Pride Month is one of the most fun advocacy efforts I can think of. Not only does it have parades, pageantry, and color but it also advocates for the gay rights movement. Also, I absolutely adore the celebration of love is love.
What I learned while working on the volunteer opportunity:
The first thing that I learned was that my relationship to the LGBTQ+ community is called an ally. An ally is a person who supports and respects members of the LGBTQ+ community.
As I began to read first hand accounts of the LGBTQ+ patient’s experience, there are certainly some unique considerations that I simply do not have experience with. However, I do have empathy and a willingness to learn and be open.
Patient Values: treating the whole patient from the LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee resource page lists the following as barriers to LGBTQ+ patients seeking healthcare:
- Healthcare Discrimination
- Avoidance or delay of care
- Negative health outcomes
I am convinced that as a result of this volunteer opportunity that when the opportunity presents itself to treat a LGBTQ+ athlete I will do so holistically and with compassion. Prior to this volunteer opportunity I have had an intuition that I would treat an LGBTQ+ patient with compassion since I already have an appreciation for the community, however now I am positive.
How will this volunteer opportunity impact my work now that it is complete?
The topic I chose to create content for the LBGTQ+AC was “Finding a LBGTQ+ Friendly Physician”. While I am not a physician, I am a healthcare provider for a young, physically active population. The resources from which I created the content was intended to create a welcoming environment and can be easily implemented by any healthcare provider.
The two simplest take-aways from the content that can be easily implemented are:
- Display a visible emblem recognized by the LGBTQ+ community in the care environment
- Follow the athlete’s cues on how they describe their identity and their relationships
Another impact the opportunity will have on my work is to not overlook LGBTQ+ health related content. With a constant stream of information at our fingertips in various newsfeeds, its easy to overlook content that might not be immediately relevant. I anticipate that I will have a member of the LGBTQ+ community in my care at some time and actively opening LGBTQ+ health related content when it appears in my newsfeed can keep me educated so that I can provide competent care when the time comes.
Two easy ways to get LGBTQ+ health related content in your newsfeeds is to subscribe to the NATA inclusion quarterly e-newsletter and to follow @LGBTQNATA on twitter.