Executive Profile: A Conversation with Dustin Nowaskie, Founder of OutCare

Why did you create OutCare?

After going through my first year of medical school, I observed many stereotypes and offensive scenarios portraying LGBTQ individuals. At the same time, I was seeking a healthcare provider who I would feel comfortable with, but unfortunately I could not locate a doctor who had experience with unique LGBTQ healthcare needs. Having attended undergraduate school in Los Angeles, I kept going back to the same feeling of wishing I had access to many LGBTQ resources. It was around this time that these feelings of optimism and motivation coalesced into OutCare. OutCare is my way to make Indiana a more welcoming place. OutCare is an initiative that makes LGBTQ resources visible to the public so that individuals can easily access the best culturally competent healthcare available.

Tell me about some of your first responses from healthcare providers.

Our initial responses ranged from very supportive to disapproving. Overall most providers generously thanked our team for creating this much-needed resource. We did however receive skeptical questions often such as, “Why does it matter that I am competent?”. Some providers also viewed the OutList as an “outing” directory rather than its intended purpose to showcase culturally competent providers. These providers often responded with an unwavering “no” despite attempts to re-clarify the purpose of the OutList.

Did you receive any backlash?

I wouldn’t dub our initial difficulties as “backlash”, but our interactions during the first few months of OutCare’s inauguration were occasionally discouraging. Our team reached out to several hospital organizations, faculty, staff, and community members; while many were verbally supportive, we only received actual support from very few.

What are your plans for growth in Indiana?

OutCare has primarily identified Indianapolis-based resources and providers. In the coming years, we are planning to expand OutCare across the entire state, so that we can identify all LGBTQ healthcare services, expand the OutList, and make these resources accessible to individuals who do not have the means to travel to Indianapolis. Eventually we would like to create annual LGBTQ conferences and training for healthcare providers to acquire cultural competency.

What organizations have you patterned with?

Currently, we’ve partnered with several local organizations. Our main partnership is with the Indiana University School of Medicine Office of Diversity Affairs. Members of the diversity office have been instrumental in helping OutCare get started and continue to progress. We have also partnered with Eskenazi Health and Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine in order to expand our outreach.

How has OutCare been received by the community?

In my opinion, OutCare has been received rather well. Ever since I created OutCare, we have received much praise from our institution and community organizations. OutCare recently received the Joseph T. Taylor Excellence in Diversity Award, an award through IUPUI given to one organization per year. I believe that the admiration and accolades OutCare has received thus far attests to importance and gratitude of such a long-awaited resource.

In a perfect world, what would you like to see OutCare become?

I realize that OutCare is an initiative that many other states eagerly desire. I hope that OutCare continues to expand into a nationally recognized healthcare equality organization. It is dream of mine that one day OutCare will be leader in LGBTQ healthcare, training medical providers across the country and inspiring communities to deliver high-quality, culturally competent, unbiased healthcare to all.

Photo Credit:

Liz Kaye, Art Director/Producer/Photographer at Indiana University Communications