Most of these conversations surround how we need to be more inclusive in respect to gender and sexually, but before we can move towards having more inclusive care. We first need to understand how these individuals are trained.
Health Care and Medical Training
Most people that pursue health care, my self included, do so in order to positively impact the lives of people receiving care. Understand that is important is seeing how their institutions fail them. You have a healthcare landscape filled with uneducated or wrongly educated people rather than a majority of bigoted people.
- They spend a lot of time studying textbooks, powerpoints, videos, ect on the basics and core information of their practice.
- They take at times almost an impossible amount of classes
- They spend some but never enough to time in simulations, lab, clinicals, or rotations to becomes fully familiar with their practice.
- They are learning towards standardized tests as well. For many there are multiple standardized tests they must practice before they practice.
- They are sometimes not a part of a larger university that has a diversity, women’s, or LGBT resource center.
- They do not take nor have classes that fully integrate undeserved communities such as the homeless, impoverished, uninsured, immigrants, non english speakers, LGBTQIA+, abused people, and those with any culture that is not the norm( as I sometimes jokingly state if you are not a white suburban man, woman, or child chances are school did not teach me how to treat you.).
- LGBTQIA+ plus people aside, most of the classes they take do not look at the intersectionalities that are a part of a person’s care.
Now I list these aspects not to say that these schools are completely inefficient. The issue is really that we have not allowed how we train these professionals to evolve as our world has. Classes should integrate in a meaningful manner how to treat trans patients, patients with multiple partners in a sex positive manner, sex education, the latest research, and most importantly should remove bias. I suspect and believe that the issue at hand is that these institutions are not held accountable in the ways that we do with typical universities. Even if they are a part of what most think of as a traditional university the professional portions of schools do not have the diversity, women’s, LGBT, and other centers coming to them to critically assess and offer education to their students and professors.
For example at the University of Houston, student RAs, faculty, students, and some classes ask for or are offered panels of actual LGBTalphabetsoup people to speak on issues. Then by these services just being there they get held accountable. The resource center will bring up to administration that students are being harassed in housing or in classes. The issue at hand is that how often do you hear about a nursing, medical, physician’s assistant, physical therapy, or any healthcare professional school having that sort of advocacy or being reminded that they need to integrate other populations into their curriculum? Most of us are focused just on universities and colleges in general and not professional schools, post secondary schools, or trade schools.
They don’t know what they don’t know
I do not expect schools that are trying to cram medical and health care knowledge into the heads of students to fix this on their own. Just like any other institution they first need to be told they have an issue, and if the ACLU will reach out to the local colleges or the community to do training on Gender 101 they also need to add medical and nursing schools to their radar. Policies will not change how healthcare workers interact with patients. Education and asserting the need for competent care being taught and simulated in schools will. There also is frustration by students in these institutions because their student organizations also focus more on niches than other schools do. Your medical school will have options for how to travel to Africa, Costa Rica, Carribiean islands, and various other locations to provide health care but not an LGBT group on campus. Then the schools will have various projects but sometimes might not have programs that directly affect the city they are in. A lot of the schools operate on macro thinking alone which leaves this gap of knowledge. Students also without a diversity board, LGBT center, or organizations that deal with advocacy for undeserved and represented groups may not feel empowered or have a direct way to bring up these issues. We also need to make sure we are considering this population of people when we make conferences. Campus Pride holds a leadership camp each summer for LGBTQIA+ and ally students leaders, their faculty advisers over the organizations, and they offer a lot of different types of information on advocacy and education, but their university information and camp do not have professional schools in mind. So we are getting to only a fraction of the population we need to address. I thoroughly enjoyed and cherished being a student who attended that camp.I felt empowered and did use the skills I learned there to get to work on advocacy at my campus, but now that I am a student in a nursing school I feel isolated once again. It is not that they are wrong in their approach. It is just time to expand. I need training and resources related to how I can supervene in this new school setting, and I need to ensure that I will not become a provider that provides poor care to my own community. We have all been fighting so long we have forgotten there is much work to be done in prek-12, masters, doctorate, and other types and levels of schooling. A lot of groups have made head way with colleges and universities, but we have not infiltrated the ivroy towers that in some ways are a larger part of the problem than where your kid got their four year after high school education from. These people have clout and are looked at as the professionals to be trusted. We need them on our side. Also, yes I know that you could get your master and PhD at the same place you got your bachelors. I know, but there is a nuanced difference that I am talking about. The upper tiers of those universities and stand alone professional schools needs to be addressed.
What needs to be added to these schools
Speakers and panels with LGBTalphabetsoup people
Diversity, LGBT, or some sort of administrative and student lead groups for oppressed or undeserved groups
Communication with other universities that have services
Service projects for credit or that can be used for the students hours(nursing students and other healthcare students need proof of so many hours of certain types of simulated and clinical hours to sit to take board tests)
Need to stop seeing being socially aware as a political stance
Need to make their institutions more accessible to impoverished, low income, and oppressed groups( if financial or other reasons are keeping these people out no wonder you have no idea they are not being served)
Meaningful simulations( students regularly are a part of sim labs, but none of them will include people that are trans, poly, gay, ect.)
Educational videos on LGBTalphabetsoup healthcare
Attending workshops, conference, and other events for underseved groups and in particular LGBTalphabetsoup needs to be on their radar
Institutions that train health care providers need to acknowledge the existence of people of various gender and sexual orientations.
LGBT vocabulary needs to be introduced
Sex positivity needs to be introduced
Information on hormone replacement therapy as it is used in the trans population
Truvadea needs to be discussed
How to handle speaking with trans patients
Ending speaking of a personal disinterest in sex as pathology( yes medications, truama, and other issues can make this true, but asexual people exist, and we should not assume ever time a patient says they are not interested in sex that it is pathology that must be fixed)
Introducing other ways of living that exist(not everyone has a nuclear family, and I do not mean divorced parents raising kids.)
Students who are aware of these issues need to speak up
I often see students advocate on their high school and college campuses. That should not stop because you attend a professional school. Please know that your voices are essential to changing this aspect of our society. We do not need the next wave of healthcare providers to be ignorant of the needs of this community.