Dr. Albert Chaffin Enhances LGBTQ Awareness and Education
Dr. Chaffin knew he wanted to be a doctor from the time he was 12 years old. His seventh grade English teacher assigned a project in which the students were to include a collage of images and words aptly depicting their interests. Dr. Chaffin recalls that his collage was all about science. This affinity didn’t change throughout middle and high school, and he entered college in his home state of Ohio knowing he wanted to continue his education by going to medical school.
After spending his residency at OHSU, Dr. Chaffin was more than happy to stay in the Portland area. He enthusiastically accepted a position at Pediatric Associates of the Northwest (PANW), where he could turn his middle school dream into a reality. But just as important as remaining in the Pacific Northwest and beginning his medical career was his excitement to find a practice whose values aligned with his own.
While Pediatric Associates of the Northwest has always strived to be a safe place for all children and youth, it was the arrival of Dr. Chaffin that brought these goals to the forefront, taking intentional steps with thoughtful action to support the already accepting and welcoming philosophy of the clinic. It began with little things, like changing the patient intake forms to include more than the two standard gender options, and to have sections labeled “Parent 1” and “Parent 2” rather than “Mom” and “Dad.” The clinic also added rainbow-colored decals in the shape of triangles to the clinic doors and exam rooms, as a declaration of the clinic’s welcoming of LGBTQ children.
Everyone in the clinic was on board with these steps, and wanted to do even more. Dr. Chaffin developed a curriculum to educate his colleagues about ways they could be even more sensitive to the LGBTQ community. He has trained all PANW staff at both locations, from the reception desk to the physicians, from medical assistants to the billing department. As a result of Dr. Chaffin’s presentations, the clinic as a whole is better prepared to address topics unique to gay or transgender youth, to answer questions that may be asked, point youth and their parents to additional resources, and generally ensure that the clinic is known as a safe space.
And by all indications, it’s working. A parent of one of Dr. Chaffin’s patients recently said, “I chose this place, and you as our pediatrician, because I just had a feeling that we might need an accepting and informed physician for him down the line. I’m so glad I did.”
Dr. Chaffin’s educational and inspirational trainings have reached beyond his own clinic as well. He has shared his curriculum with the Children’s Health Alliance, an association of private practice pediatricians in the area who implement initiatives to improve the healthcare of children. Based on the research of the LGBTQ Clinic in New York, the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Centers for Disease Control guidelines, as well as his own experience, Dr. Chaffin’s trainings combine current research and sound practicality with heart and compassion. “I can’t overstate how great it is to work in a place where all my colleagues are on board with these ideas and want to learn how to make our clinic the most welcoming place it can be for all children and youth. When we opened our new office in Tigard, I was ready to remind everyone about the rainbow triangles. I wanted to make sure they made the move, too. But the first day I walked in, the triangles were already on the doors. Someone beat me to it. And I think that’s pretty great.”