Case vignette

Asking for pronouns in a clinical setting.

Inclusive Language Illustration

Asking for pronouns in a clinical setting.

Here’s an example of a clinician asking for pronouns.

Doctor

Good morning. I am Dr. Susie Smith. Are you Richard Clarkson?

Patient

Yes

Doctor

How would you like me to address you today?

Patient

Richard is fine.

Doctor

It is a pleasure to meet you, Richard. May I ask you a few more background questions before we start?

Patient

Sure.

Doctor

In our effort to promote an inclusive and respectful environment, we like to know our patient’s pronouns. The pronouns used when others talk about me are "she" and "her"’ How about you? What pronouns should we use for you?

Patient

I use “he” and “him,” I guess.

Doctor

Great. Thank you.

Patient

Doctor

Patient

Doctor

Patient

Things to consider.

01

Asking all patients the same questions at the beginning is vital to de-stigmatizing LGBTQ patient care. Introducing your own pronouns and the name you’d like to be called as their doctor affirms that knowing how to address each other correctly is important to good patient care.

02

If a patient becomes agitated or confused at the question, affirm that this clinic is open to many kinds of patients who live in the area and their unique needs -- so some questions may fit some patients better than others.

Question to think about:

Have you thought about the importance of asking for pronouns in clinical care and do you feel comfortable doing so with patients?

Ask for pronouns
Ask how the patient is doing
Ask for consent before touching
All of the above