Celebrating Osteopathic Values This Pride Month: Removing Barriers to Care to Treat the Whole Person

Published June 27, 2023

Inside OME

Chett Pritchett, assistant director of admissions and outreach, Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine

By Chett Pritchett (he/they), assistant director of admissions and outreach, Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine

When I talk to prospective students about the osteopathic values we emphasize at Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, I share how we view diversity and inclusion from a broad perspective, encompassing race, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic status, first-generation or cultural experience, while still recognizing the importance of an individual’s journey. If we are training future physicians to “treat the whole person,” this means taking seriously the barriers to access.

I work at a medical school, yet as a Queer person who lives and works in a rural area, knowing how to access care and have trust in the healthcare system is a challenge. Accessing vital health resources like PrEP, PEP or the MPox vaccine can be a roadblock when stigma – both real and assumed – is very present. Conversations about gender identity and gender-affirming care are rare, especially in states that have made such care illegal for youths and difficult for adults. When visiting my primary care physician’s office for the first time, I was glad to see questions on the intake form regarding sexual orientation and asking pronouns because these are basic questions to understanding and “treating the whole person.” And yet there is a very real fear that personal information can be shared – legally through HIPAA – to insurers and employers regarding sexual orientation or gender identity, thus creating greater barriers to health and well-being.

As Pride Month ends, let us remember that treating the whole person means understanding diverse life experiences, leading with empathy and striving to overcome the barriers to healthcare. Increasing visibility and accessibility for LGBTQIA+ students inside and outside the classroom improves the educational experiences for all students and prepares physicians to treat their patients as an integrated whole. Celebrating Pride isn’t just about platitudes for one month out of the year; it’s celebrating the values we hold near to our hearts in the osteopathic community.