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“It’s about time!”

This is the reaction we often hear during our “SOGI: Why We Ask” training sessions at The Exeter Group. This module, which stands for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, dives deep into the health disparities faced by the LGBTQIA+ community and emphasizes the importance of asking patients these crucial questions to better serve their needs.  

We primarily train registration and intake staff, along with their managers, and the feedback is always a mixed bag. Many participants express gratitude that their hospital is finally addressing SOGI inclusion. They share sentiments like, “This is long overdue!” Some even open up about their own experiences as LGBTQIA+ individuals, highlighting the challenges they’ve faced both as employees and patients. 

However, not everyone feels comfortable. Some participants struggle with the topic, saying things like, “I wasn’t raised this way” or “I don’t think this is right.” This variety of reactions makes the training both fulfilling and challenging. 

Our sessions provide a unique opportunity for participants to engage authentically while learning essential skills for immediate use. They practice asking SOGI questions and handling potential patient responses. I’m grateful for this hands-on approach and for our skilled facilitators who guide everyone, regardless of their initial stance, towards understanding and empathy. This training is vital for collecting accurate SOGI data, which in turn leads to better patient care. 

As we celebrate PRIDE month, let’s remember that LGBTQIA+ patients need to be seen and heard. By creating a welcoming space from the first interaction, we can make a meaningful difference in their healthcare experience by providing space for them to share who they are from the first interaction.  

Of the training and education sessions we develop and facilitate at The Exeter Group, our module “SOGI: Why We Ask” has been the most fulfilling and challenging for me. In short, the content centers on health disparities and inequities experienced by the LGBTQ+ community, and why asking patients SOGI questions will help healthcare organizations better meet these patientsneeds. Training participants typically include registration or intake staff, and their managers. 

Participation reactions vary considerably within and between training sessions. A lot of participants are grateful that their hospital is finally talking about SOGI inclusion. They say, “It’s about time!” or “This is long overdue”. Some even share openly about their experience as LGBTQ+ and challenges they have faced as employees and/or patients. Other participants, though, share their discomfort with not only asking the SOGI questions, but with discussing LGBTQ+ topics overall. They say, “I wasn’t raised this way” or “I don’t think this is right.  

This training, like no other, allows participants to show up as they are to learn critical skills for immediate application. They even practice asking the SOGI questions and responding to potential patient responses during the session. For this, I am grateful. I am also grateful that our facilitators guide all participants – regardless of their starting pointsto use their slow thinking and demonstrate perspective taking. Finally, I am grateful that the training creates a foundation for accurate SOGI data collection which will lead to better patient care. 

As we celebrate PRIDE month this year, let’s remember that patients who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community need to be seen and heard. One way we can do that is providing the space for them to share who they are from the first interaction