Eko recently chatted with @ThatGayDoctor, a primary care physician who uses social media to help members of the LGBTQ+ community feel more comfortable navigating the healthcare system.
You have 61K+ followers on Instagram and 729K+ on TikTok. What are you hoping your followers take away from your content?
The main goal of my account is to increase queer visibility in medicine. It's to showcase that I can be my authentic self in the workplace while maintaining professionalism. So many of us are out in our personal lives, but go back in the closet in the workplace for fear of being judged or discriminated against. I would love to do my part to decrease how often that happens.
What made you decide to make content centered around the underserved and LGBTQ+ health?
I advocate for LGBTQ+ health because I have experienced discrimination in the healthcare setting as a result of my sexual orientation, and struggled to find a provider who I felt comfortable sharing with. I know many members of the LGBTQ+ community likely have had the same experiences, so I want to help them navigate the system better and find ways to make the healthcare system feel less scary. The same goes with patient populations who have limited resources. It can be very difficult to navigate the system, and so I want to be able to arm them with communication tips or other insider information so that they can get the most out of their visits.
What do you think are some of the biggest issues that the LGBTQ+ community faces in regards to healthcare?
The LGBTQ+ population has higher rates of mental health conditions and substance use disorders, and often delays seeking help due to fear of stigma or discrimination. This is especially true for those who do not live in big cities where they have access to designated queer safe spaces.
According to the American Heart Association, more than half (56%) of LGBTQ+ adults report experiencing some form of discrimination from a healthcare professional. What can be done to make patients feel welcome and cared for?
Simple ways to make queer individuals feel safe and welcome include having pins or stickers on white coats and badges or the pride flag in exam rooms to indicate allyship. Use inclusive language on intake forms for gender identity, sexual orientation, and how patients would like to be addressed. Also use "partner" when asking clarification questions to avoid making assumptions. Opening the visit by sharing your name, pronouns, and a bit about yourself can really help break down barriers for all patients and make people feel more comfortable sharing.
Who inspires you?
I am inspired by queer individuals of all professions who show up to work as their authentic selves every day. I know this isn't possible for everyone for various reasons, but it's so refreshing to see and gives me hope for the future.