NYU School of Nursing Finally Has a Queer and Trans Health Course

LGBTQ+ people across the United States are facing greater challenges than ever getting needed and competent health care, but nursing school students want to change that.

After successfully piloting a new course focused on “affirming and inclusive” LGBTQ+ health this spring, NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing announced this week that the course will be offered as an elective to all students in the fall 2022 semester. The course will be taught by Assistant Clinical Professor Jeff Day, who is also a nurse practitioner at the Mount Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery.

In a college press release, Day said he was approached by students in 2019 who wanted to learn more about health issues specific to LGBTQ+ communities and pushed for the development of the course.

“While ideally LGBTQ+ content would be integrated throughout the nursing curriculum, we recognized that this amount of change takes time,” Day explained, “so we developed an elective course to help fill the void in LGBTQ+ educational content.”

The school says Day’s course will cover the history of LGBTQ+ health, endemic physical and mental health issues, and important laws and policies that govern the care of LGBTQ+ people.

Asked by Their how the course would specifically address the needs of trans patients, Day replied via email that “[g]Given recent attacks on transgender rights, it is more important than ever to educate frontline healthcare workers to provide competent, gender-responsive care.

“Drawing on my own experience caring for transgender patients and with input from guest lecturers, this course will lay the foundation for new nurses by providing information ranging from using inclusive language, learning about implicit biases and by addressing the unique medical, surgical, mental health, and reproductive needs of transgender patients,” Day wrote.

According to a 2015 survey of more than 1,000 nursing school faculty members, the median time spent teaching LGBTQ+ health in nursing programs was just over 2 hours. For queer communities struggling with debilitating mental health issues and facing regressive laws that restrict needed care — especially among those who are also racially marginalized, including black people and gay AAPI — this academic ignorance only aggravates the wounds created by current health disparities.

This isn’t the first time NYU nursing students have spoken out demanding their school improve its LGBTQ+ health education. In 2020, NYU’s Clinical Simulation Learning Center, which holds practice simulations for students to assess their skills, developed new scenarios involving queer and trans patients to promote fair treatment and reduce bias. The change came at the request (and with the implication) of the LGBTQIA2 Nursing Student Association.

Lest you think that the only hope for competent LGBTQ+ healthcare, doctors who are already practicing have no excuse not to up their game as well. The American Medical Association offers online courses on LGBTQ+ “health, diversity and inclusion” for continuing education credits, which physicians need to maintain their licenses. So take a look at the books, please. Our lives literally depend on it.

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