What It Means to Be an Inclusive Provider

by | Mar 6, 2024

At Simclusive, promoting and teaching inclusivity and compassion in medical practice is at the heart of what we do. We help healthcare professionals confidently provide patient-centered, culturally sensitive care while honing their clinical skills in live virtual learning sessions with standardized patients with real humans of lived experience.

Woman holding paper human figures at table, close up. Diversity and inclusion concept.

But what exactly does it mean to be an inclusive provider? Let’s take a closer look at the skills, values, and competencies these individuals hold.

Cultural Humility, Affirmation, and Competency

Healthcare practitioners are responsible for understanding and respecting the cultural and social norms of the different patients they encounter. Marginalized patients can be part of any number of groups based on common factors, including:

  • Religion
  • Culture
  • Nationality
  • Sex
  • Gender identity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Disability
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Language spoken

Cultural competence is a training standard in many healthcare systems, facilities, and practices. But is cultural “competence” – indicative of mastery – an appropriate goal? 

As a healthcare professional, what would be the better goal to strive for? We believe the answer is cultural humility, an interpersonal approach that builds the scaffolding for patient-centered care. 

Of the many cultures, groups, and societal norms in the world, no one can truly understand them all. To practice cultural humility with every patient, it is a provider’s duty to remain open, reflect, and learn. 

A healthcare provider’s ability to provide empathetic, knowledgeable care to all patients relies on a continuous journey in which they learn about and from different cultures and groups. During this ongoing process, self-reflection and evaluation are invaluable tools. They illuminate how an individual’s personal beliefs, values, and biases impact their patients. 

Another component of providing inclusive care is cultural affirmation. Practitioners should consistently strive to respectfully validate an individual’s identity and beliefs during encounters. Understanding patients as people, not just medical puzzles to be solved, is paramount to creating a culturally inclusive practice framework. 

Patient-Centered Care

Patients from stigmatized populations are often wary of the healthcare system and providers. Individualized, affirming care will create trusting relationships between practitioners and their patients. Each patient has unique needs and preferences that should be considered with care. They are to be treated as an individual, not just as a member of a group. 

Practitioners can build rapport with active listening, genuine interest, authenticity, and culturally aware strategies. Individuals who trust their providers are more likely to be honest about crucial details that can impact their health. 

As a result, open patients have better outcomes because they are more likely to follow advice, keep appointments, and maintain their treatment courses.

Policy and Advocacy

The healthcare industry can be slow to adopt change. Individual practitioners can start by supporting inclusivity and advocating for changes within their facilities. Small ripples lead to big waves, ultimately affecting change across the healthcare continuum. 

Evolution within the industry can begin with just a few practitioners advocating for the rights of their patients. By pushing for appropriate policy and administrative changes, healthcare providers can vastly improve the medical care and experience of marginalized groups.

Education and Training

Practitioners must be aware of all components that shape their patients’ interactions with the healthcare system. 

Cultural competence is more complex than understanding how the unique characteristics of different groups may impact an individual’s health and decision-making. Technical components drive clinical judgment, further impacting a provider’s choices for appropriate medical care based on underlying factors. 

For example, patients who are transgender require specialized medical care. The discussion, initiation, and maintenance of hormone therapy requires extensive knowledge of the process as a medical treatment, not just how to affirm a patient’s identity as an individual who is transgender. Providers must also know appropriate cancer screenings based on organs and anatomy while approaching the subject with genuine compassion and care.

Simulations with standardized patients (SP) can incorporate DEI principles into training, preparing practitioners for working with patients of all backgrounds. Whether you’re looking for simulation scenarios for nurses, doctors, or PAs, Simlcusive provides ample opportunities for one-on-one practice and feedback. 

By working with Simclusive’s standardized patients with varied lived experiences, practitioners are more prepared than ever for conversations with their patients. This is especially true for sensitive topics that are potentially challenging, stressful, or simply new to them. We support the ongoing commitment to cultural humility and affirming care with our diverse scenario library. 

Becoming an inclusive provider is an ongoing journey that has no definite finish line. There will always be new opportunities to learn, grow, and better connect with our fellow humans, and the best we can do is take those opportunities and strive for continuous improvement.

Ready to take the next step? Explore our scenario library for a number of options that will challenge both technical and cultural competencies. Participants can choose any scenario that meets their learning objectives or curiosities and schedule a one-on-one meeting with a virtual standardized patient. Simclusive’s unique and flexible online portal allows busy providers to continue their development in cultural humility and inclusive care on their own time.

At Simculsive, our learners can expect opportunities to use clinical and diagnostic reasoning skills while delivering empathetic, inclusive care in a controlled practice setting. With our variety of standardized patients of lived experience, participants get immediate, personalized feedback during a live debrief. Contact us today to learn more.


Renee Wadsworth

Renee Wadsworth is a simulationist specializing in Human Simulation Online, using SPs (standardized patients) to apply & assess important skills in a psychologically safe environment. Renee is currently an SP Education Strategist for SP-ed & Simclusive at Healthcourse, Inc where she is responsible for developing, coordinating, and managing human-to-human simulations for universities, health systems, and professional associations, focused largely on telehealth and inclusive healthcare. Renee was first introduced to the world of medical simulation as an SP in 2013 and quickly gained more involvement with the industry, finding creative ways to expand the use of SPs outside of undergraduate medical education. She is passionate about creating a world where patients feel safe and confident with their care teams.

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