Episode 6 | Using more Inclusive Language in the Clinic

July 24, 2020

In the Clinic with Camille

a podcast for integrative practitioners


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Using Inclusive Languge in the Clinic

As a clinician, you're probably used to speaking or writing in a particular way. It's helpful to evaluate your language periodically to make sure yu're choosing words and phrases that create a welcoming and inclusive environment. While I know most of us have good intentions, we also have a lot of room for improvement (and I include myself here!).

Here are a few things to consider in your written language:

  • List your pronouns on your website, in your bio, and in other marketing/promotional materials
  • Leave blanks for clients to indicate sex and gender on your forms, rather than providing binary choices
  • Ask clients which pronouns they use on your intake form or at the beginning of your visit
  • In the "Family History" section of your intake forms, ask clients to list family members and relevant illnesses or conditions rather than specifying "mother" "father" etc.
  •  Use parent(s) or guardian(s) rather than mother/father; do not assume parents are married
  • Use partner/spouse rather than husband/wife; do not assume people have only one partner or spouse
  • Check your intake forms for questions about reproductive organs; ask the same questions to all clients. Put a "not applicable" box for people to check if relevant. 

Here are some considerations for spoken language:

  • "Died from suicide" rather than "committed suicide"
  • "Person with diabetes" rather than "diabetic" (same applies for other conditions: alcoholic, etc.)
  • "Older adults" rather than "elderly"
  • "Under-resourced" rather than "inner city"
  • "Neighborhood with high poverty rates" rather than "disadvantaged"
  • "They" rather than "he/she" if gender unknown
  • "Hey y'all" or "Hey folks" rather than "Hey guys" (or, à la the Sleep with Me podcast, “Ladies, gentlemen, and friends beyond the binary”)
  • "Bananas" or "wild" rather than "crazy" or "insane"
  • "Not cool" rather than "lame"
  • "The public" rather than "citizens" or "Americans" [situational]
  • "Different sex" rather than "opposite sex"
  • "Pregnant person" or "person who is nursing" rather than "pregnant mother" or "nursing mother”

Resources for Inclusive Language


Thoughts? Add your comments here. 

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Camille Freeman, LDN

Hi there! I'm a clinical herbalist and licensed nutritionist specializing in fertility and reproductive health. I mentor other practitioners who need help building and growing their practices, working with complicated clients and getting clinical hours. I'm also a professor in the Department of Nutrition at the Maryland University of Integrative Health, where I teach physiology, pathophysiology, and mindful eating. My pronouns are she/hers. 

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