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Addressing Weight Bias in Clinical Conversations

Heather Bradford, PhD, CNM, FACNM

Speaker(s) Bio

Heather Bradford (she/her) has been a full-scope midwife since 2002 and
hails from Kirkland, WA. Since 2017, she has served at Georgetown
University as the Assistant Program Director for the Nurse-
Midwifery/Women's Health Nurse Practitioner Program. She has advocated
for ARNPs at both the state and federal legislative level. Under her
leadership, WA ARNPs acquired the capacity to prescribe without a joint
practice agreement. While Chair of the ACNM Government Affairs
Committee, nurse-midwives achieved equitable reimbursement under
Medicare. She became a Fellow in 2011 and serves as Vice Chair on the
Fellows Board of Governors. She is a prior winner of the Varney Participant
Award, the Public Policy Award, and the Kitty Ernst “Young
Whippersnapper” Award. She recently completed her PhD in nursing
science from Vanderbilt University, studying weight bias among midwives
toward patients with higher body weights.

Signey Olson, DNP, NP, CNM

Speaker Bio
Signey Olson (she/her or they/them) is a certified nurse-midwife and nurse
practitioner in Washington DC where they are faculty in Georgetown
University’s Nurse-Midwifery/Women's Health Nurse Practitioner and
Women's Health Nurse Practitioner Programs. They recently finished their
doctorate of nursing practice, researching ways to decrease weight bias
and increase eating disorder screening in the outpatient setting. Their
clinical practice has focused on the LGBTQ+ population in the reproductive
endocrinology setting, focusing on complex gynecological care, gender-affirming
hormone management and fertility treatment. Their specialties
include the care of patients with a history of trauma, patients with
disordered eating patterns, and endocrine disorders such as PCOS.
Signey enjoys staying active in their professional community on a national
level by helping to develop national curriculum guidelines on gender-affirming
care for medical education programs and integrating health equity
discussions throughout clinical education.

Course Description

Conversations that occur in healthcare settings call on the clinician’s
effective communication skills, empathy, professionalism, and moral
obligation to recognize the unconditional value of patients as persons.
However, these clinical conversations (specifically those that address diet,
exercise, weight, and weight gain recommendations) have the potential to
be harmful to the client if not conducted in an intentional way. Weight bias,
defined as the societal devaluation of people in larger bodies, is prevalent
among clinicians, and can have deleterious effects on the utilization of care, the
clinician-client relationship, and health outcomes. However, by learning to
thoughtfully construct this conversation with a focus on health and not
weight, clinicians can be change agents in advancing health and equity.
Through self-reflection of implicit and explicit weight bias, anti-racist
perspectives, intentional language, a respectful, step-wise, common
ground approach, and use of the Health at Every Size® model, clinicians
can reframe the clinical conversation regarding their client’s health. By
understanding their own biases and critically reflecting on the research,
clinicians can improve client outcomes and enhance shared decision-making.

Learning Objectives
At the conclusion of this session, participants will be able to:

1. Understand how clinician weight bias can negatively affect conversations
about weight, body size, and overall health.
2. Review the physical and mental health adverse outcomes associated with
clinician weight bias, chronic dieting, weight cycling, and a weight-loss
centric approach to care.
3. Describe the steps of navigating a clinical conversation about health with
a client or colleagues using the Health at Every Size® framework.
4. Identify strategies to provide a weight-inclusive environment in the
clinical setting.

CEs Offered: 1 CE

Course expiration: October 11, 2025