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Working towards a more inclusive future in pharmacy

June 14, 2023
The U of A’s LGBTQ+ Pharmacy Students Club’s co-president shares her thoughts on creating inclusive pharmacy spaces.

Pride Month offers an opportunity to celebrate 2SLGTBQIA+ communities and reflect on the role of pharmacy teams in creating inclusive and welcoming spaces to facilitate quality person-centred care.

The University of Alberta’s LGBTQ+ Pharmacy Students Club is a student-led initiative, aimed at creating safe spaces and empowering members of 2SLGTBQIA+ communities. They facilitate educational and social events that are geared towards 2SLGTBQIA+-identifying individuals, self-identified allies, and the general student body.

The LGBTQ+ Pharmacy Students Club’s co-president, Samantha Gottschalk, shared what this group of student leaders are working towards.

“It is our hope that by providing spaces for discussion, future healthcare professionals can begin to develop their understanding of these concepts and use this knowledge to create safer spaces for their patient populations.”

Taking steps to create an inclusive environment is essential for patients’ safety and wellbeing. Samantha recommends being more intentional with language, including ensuring forms provide inclusive gender options, offering your own pronouns at the beginning of an interaction, and mirroring the language that the patient is using to describe themselves. Creating a welcoming physical space, such as offering all-gender washrooms, is also an important step.

Samantha adds that a lack of inclusivity has a significant impact on patient care.

“Many 2SLGTBQIA+ individuals have had negative experiences with the healthcare system in the past, leading them to delay and be less likely to seek care until their treatable conditions have advanced,” she said.

Creating a safe and inclusive environment is also important to ensure peers and colleagues feel comfortable. Samantha offers some suggestions on how to build an inclusive workplace, explaining that small changes can make a big difference.

“One example would be modifying language to be more inclusive. Using the word partner rather than wife or husband indicates conscious inclusivity rather than assuming heterosexuality,” she said. “Even simple things such as putting pronouns in email signatures can create a more inclusive environment, as it signifies an understanding of their importance.”

Samantha adds that mistakes do happen.

“New skills take learning and practice. If errors do occur, apologize, correct it, and try to improve in the future.”

Looking towards the future, Samantha hopes to see inclusive practice become the norm.

“It is my hope that pharmacy professionals can rebuild some of the fractured trust many 2SLGTBQIA+ individuals have with the healthcare system,” she said. “In the future, I hope to see more community pharmacy practices standardize their approaches and implement recommendations of pharmacy teams that are already practising in an inclusive manner.”

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