LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Physicians without formal training in transgender health can be unprepared when a transgender patient needs basic health care, or help with a transgender specific issue such as hormonal transition. If the physician is unfamiliar with the typical barriers faced by transgender people in the health-care system or current standards of care, the patient’s health may suffer.

The University of Louisville will host two events on June 11 at the School of Medicine to close this gap by providing physicians and other health-care providers with a better understanding of treatment practices and standard of care for transgender patients.

First, a panel of physicians and community members will discuss best practices in transgender health care in a grand rounds presentation for approximately 80 physicians and other health professionals. Following the panel presentation, about 60 health-care providers and transgender community leaders will meet to network, identify gaps in care and discuss steps needed to improve care for this population.

The events are part of a UofL initiative, known as the eQuality Project,* established to ensure that individuals who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT), gender nonconforming or born with differences of sex development (DSD) receive the best possible health care in the community.

“This is a topic that has been taboo for a long time. Physicians want to provide the best care for these patients, but they may not be aware of issues and how to address someone in a culturally responsive manner,” said Faye Jones, M.D., Ph.D., M.S.P.H., assistant vice president for health affairs — diversity initiatives at UofL’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion. “This is a group that has many health disparities and this program will help alleviate these disparities.”

People who are LGBT, gender non-conforming or born with DSD often experience challenges when seeking care in doctors’ offices, community clinics, hospitals and emergency rooms. Research shows that these health disparities result in decreased access to care or willingness to seek care, resulting in increased medical morbidity and mortality for LGBT and DSD-affected patients.

“Ultimately, it is our goal to have an identified medical ‘home’ that provides all aspects of care for transgender patients in Louisville, as has been developed in other major clinical centers in the United States,” said Amy Holthouser, M.D., associate dean for medical education at the UofL School of Medicine.

Beginning in August, the UofL School of Medicine will serve as the nation’s pilot site for training future physicians on the unique health-care concerns and issues encountered by LGBT individuals and those who are gender nonconforming or DSD-affected.

The Institute of Medicine, The Joint Commission, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) have all recently highlighted the need for more in-depth provider education on LGBT health.

“At least forty hours of content in the UofL school of medicine curriculum have been targeted for revision to be more inclusive and affirming of LGBT and DSD patients,” Holthouser said. “This will reinforce the core stance that a competent physician is skilled in the care of all patients within their community and can approach each patient with sensitivity, compassion and the knowledge necessary to promote health and wellness.”

For more information about attending the event on June 11, contact Stacie Steinbock, director of the LGBT Center Satellite Office on the Health Sciences Center Campus at Stacie.steinbock@louisville.edu.

 

*About the eQuality Project:  The eQuality Project at UofL is an interdisciplinary initiative that includes the School of Medicine’s Undergraduate Medical Education Office, the Health Sciences Center’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and the UofL LGBT Center. The purpose of the eQuality Project is to deliver equitable quality care for all people, regardless of identity, development or expression of gender/sex/sexuality