Healthcare professionals can gain a greater understanding of the health needs and challenges of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer community in OnCourse Learning’s new series of interprofessional continuing education courses.
The modules are accredited for nurses, pharmacists, occupational therapists and social workers, and soon will be accredited for speech language pathologists.
Educating healthcare providers on the unique needs of the LGBTQ community was the driving force behind developing the new courses, according to Robert Hess, PhD, RN, FAAN, executive vice president, education programs and credentialing, healthcare, for OnCourse Learning.
“Thirty-five years ago, I was cross-covering a urology floor for a supervisor on maternity leave,” Hess said. “We had some of the first patients who were undergoing gender reassignment surgery. When I was making rounds, I was told the patient was male when she was now female. People waited outside of the door to see how I reacted. Some nurses thought this was funny.
“We’ve come a long way in caring for patients with different sexual orientations, but we have miles to go,” Hess said. “My visceral reaction to incidents like the one early in my career fueled a desire to create poignant educational activities that will catapult the knowledge of providers toward appropriate care.”
Research suggests that LGBT individuals face health disparities linked to societal stigma, discrimination and denial of their civil and human rights, according to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Discrimination against LGBT persons has been associated with high rates of psychiatric disorders, substance abuse and suicide, according to the ODPHP.
“We’ve come a long way in caring for patients with different sexual orientations, but we have miles to go.”
To address the issue, the ODPHP has included in its Healthy People 2020 goals to improve the health, safety and well-being of LGBT individuals. Efforts include the following actions:
• Collecting data on sexual orientation and gender identity in health-related surveys and health records to identify LGBT health disparities;
• Appropriately inquiring about and being supportive of a patient’s sexual orientation and gender identity to enhance the patient-provider interaction and regular use of care;
• Providing medical students with training to increase provision of culturally competent care;
• Implementing anti-bullying policies in schools; and
• Curbing human immunodeficiency virus /sexually transmitted infections with interventions that work.
Part 1 of the series, “Perspectives in Healthcare,” presents an overview of the LGBTQ community and its contentious history with healthcare systems. Definitions of key concepts related to sexuality and gender variables will be discussed in this 1.5-hour course, along with general implications for clinical education, practice and research.
Part 2 of the series, “Healthcare Disparities,” is a 2.0-hour course that presents more complex and intricately linked social determinants of health that are unique to this population, and offers concrete tools to help provide sensitive, informed care.