By Laura Brown

Along with evidence-based health communication scholarship and education, community involvement and public health practice are key pieces of the mission of the Center for Health Communication. Last week, I attended the first meeting of the working group meant to help inform the City of Austin LGBTQ Quality of Life Advisory Commission on strategic priorities for 2018. Led by Brandon Wollerson, Commissioner for District 10, attendees brought a variety of experiences, identities, and ideas to the table—including optimism and curiosity about the inclusion of sexual orientation, gender, and gender identity education in the Dell Medical School curriculum. Other community members expressed enthusiasm about the positive impact that inclusive medical education in 2018 will have on the healthcare experiences of individuals for decades to come.

Days after the working group met, Dell Med hosted the fifth annual OUT for Health Summit, focusing on the power of the community. The summit brought together healthcare providers, leaders, and students from central Texas and beyond. After opening comments by CHC Steering Committee member and Assistant Dean for Diversity René Salazar and Dean Clay Johnston, keynote speaker and Director of the UCSF Center of Excellence for Transgender Health Dr. Madeline Deutsch shared her personal story, her work, and the way forward for health equity. Dr. Deutsch’s recommendations include demanding evidence-based structured training, curricula, and criteria for providers. In response to an audience member’s question about the most important clinical skill to have when providing care for LGBTQ patients, Dr. Deutsch highlighted the importance of communication. Using the right language and communicating in ways that affirm patient identities is key to promoting health equity.