Researching the needs of LGBT dental patients
While previous research has focused on the perspectives of dental students and practitioners, “little has been done on the perspective of the LGBT community.” Chase Phillips postbac '16, now a student at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry, is changing that.
When Chase Phillips was a child, his dentist was also a close family friend. Phillips was struck by how warm and inviting she made her office for patients. It was, he said, “a safe space.” Years later, those memories would be part of what inspired Phillips to pursue a career in dentistry.
“I always looked forward to going to the dentist when I was growing up, and I want to emulate that for others,” Phillips said.
Phillips is now a third-year student in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry, and he’s pursuing a research project, “Identifying Oral Health Priorities, Use of Services, and Inclusive Understanding of Oral Health Providers among the LGBT Community,” that was borne out of his interest in the comfort of patients. Phillips chose to explore the topic after realizing that no previous research had detailed the viewpoints of LGBT patients about the dental care experience.
“As a member of the LGBT community myself, I know how important it is to feel safe in any kind of medical environment,” Phillips said. “Going in can be stressful for anyone, but then having to worry on top of that if there might be another issue that arises based on your sexuality can make it even more stressful. Having experienced what my own dentist office was like and how safe I felt, I wanted to do research looking into how I could help expand that atmosphere to other oral health offices.”