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Reduce Stigmatizing Language

Messages from Our Providers

Your words show the world who you are. Using compassionate language tells your patients and fellow caregivers that you are a compassionate physician.
Jessica Beard, Trauma Surgery
Jessica H. Beard, MD, MPH
Jamie Garfield, pulmonary and critical care
I feel joy and pride when I hear a learner recount the overnight events of an ICU patient using inclusive and destigmatizing language. When sexual orientation and gender minorities come into the hospital and are stripped of their gender presentation and put in a hospital gown, there is a palpable loss of control. Even in the ICU, these patients and their loved ones are especially vulnerable to invalidating language. Our words matter.
Jamie Garfield, Pulmonary & Critical Care
It is impossible to tell the distance anyone has traveled based on a single moment or interaction. For this reason, respect and intentionality in every conversation should be the cornerstone of good care for all patients.
Rohit Soans, Bariatric Surgery
Rohit Soans, bariatric surgery
Jenny Aldrich, internal medicine
It’s important to be careful and thoughtful when we speak to patients, because we avoid making assumptions that make patients feel unwelcome. This is especially true for the LGBTQ+ community, where preconceived notions of sexual orientation and gender identity by the provider can be traumatizing and can prevent the development of a trusting relationship.
Jenny Aldrich, internal medicine
Providing patient-centered care starts with patient-centered communication. The way we choose our words can have a big impact on whether our patients feel heard and respected, which then directly relates to how effective we can be as caregivers.
Daniel Mueller, internal medicine
Daniel Mueller, internal medicine
Victoria Moors
Words carry and convey ideas. They are an intangible embodiment of how we see, relate to, and ultimately judge ourselves and other people. The evolution of language to be more inclusive and democratic is critical in the simultaneous evolution of ourselves and our own principles of liberty and justice for all, and truly all, people.
Victoria Moors, Class of 2023
The words we choose can have a direct impact on our patients' outcomes. If we use stigmatizing language with our patients, we risk ostracizing them and may deter them from accessing essential clinical care.
Julia Carp, Class of 2024
Julia Carp, Class of 2024
Hannah Calvelli, Class of 2024
The patient experience will always be fraught with vulnerability. Words matter because using stigmatizing language pushes patients further from the respect and support they deserve.
Hannah Calvelli, Class of 2024

Further Reading