Trans* Health in Practice: Simple ways to be welcoming, supporting, and caring with the non-binary community

Lavender Health - LGBTQ Resource Center

Co-authored by Candace W. Burton, PhD, RN, AFN-BC, AGN-BC, FNAP assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, and Monica McLemore, PhD, MPH, RN, assistant professor at the University of California San Francisco.

This week the United State Supreme Court hears arguments in Obergfell v. Hodges, a case that could determine the fate of hundreds of same sex marriages across the country. Even as our attention is drawn to that high-stakes process, it’s critical to consider how we can create an inclusive space in our own lives, work, and communities. One means of doing so is to recognize and attend to the needs of trans* and non-binary gender individuals in health care practice. As three nurses who work in mental health, reproductive health, and emergency care, we encounter people all along the gender spectrum and strive to provide safe, effective, and nonjudgmental care. We also understand that institutional-level change occurs about…

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Registered Nurses are Ebola Fighters and Scientists/Researchers

Co-authored by Kimberly Baltzell, Director, University of California San Francisco School of Nursing, Center for Global Health.

Registered nurses are many of “The Ebola Fighters,” which just last week TIME magazine named as the 2014 Person of the Year. To the vast majority of people, registered nurses deliver health care to persons who are sick. We’re glad that we’re honoring these individuals. Direct, hands-on patient care work is hard, and the personal risk to health care providers is great.

In general, this is how people view registered nurses — in scrubs, providing care that physicians prescribe. What’s not as evident is that there are other aspects of nursing — that is, that registered nurses have their own practice independent of physicians, and that registered nurses can get Ph.D.s in nursing and then systematically find ways to improve how health care is delivered. It’s this second point — registered nurses as scientists/researchers that we would like to discuss.

Both of us are Ph.D. registered nurses and both of us are scientists/researchers. We each have heard the following statements when someone hears that we have Ph.D.s in nursing, “a Ph.D.? Why not just go to medical school?” or “I didn’t know you could get a Ph.D. in nursing.” In these moments, we explain how nursing practice is distinct from medical practice and that a Ph.D. is a research degree and an M.D. is a practice degree. We say, “Yes, Ph.D.s in nursing exist” and this is what we do.

Here are some examples of the kinds of research that nurse researchers/scientists have conducted, which have resulted in improvements in care — In an emergency, a fighter pilot may reach for a mask to determine if his/her oxygen levels are dangerously low. If a women giving birth in Zambia begins bleeding profusely, a simple Velcro bodysuit designed to apply pressure and stop the bleeding may be used. A patient undergoing cardiac surgery has a greater chance of survival in a crisis due to new resuscitation standards. Cancer patients outcomes may be linked to clusters of symptoms, giving the health care provider important clues on what type of treatment to prescribe.

All of these creative solutions to critical problems involved nursing research, nursing science. You thought the role of a nurse is to deliver care at the bedside or in the community. That is true, however, that work at the bedside or in a community gives nurses a bird’s eye view of what needs to be fixed or improved. These same nurses may then go on for more education culminating in the terminal degree — a Ph.D. in nursing. These Ph.D. nurses design and conduct studies that help enhance health, decrease suffering, and improve the quality of health care. Nurse scientists work on real life problems in virtually every area of healthcare, in every setting, in every country.

The U.S. government may be recognizing the value of investing in nursing. In fact, last week the House of Representatives passed a bill which impacts nursing and health care. Additional funds have been designated for Ebola preparation and treatment, both here and in West Africa. Importantly, there are increases in funds for both advanced nursing education and nursing research through the National Institutes of Health.

So, if you or someone you care about has benefited from modern day health care, chances are a nurse researcher/scientist was involved in the design or innovation. In fact, those hands that care for you at the bedside may well be delivering interventions pioneered by a nurse scientist.

This blog was originally posted on Huffington Post on December 17, 2014.

What Not to Say to a Nurse — Hooters Opens Nursing School

Male Nurses Make More Money” was published last week in the Wall Street Journal. As a registered nurse and a woman, I was angered and appalled at the comments that this article spawned, about the sexualized physicality of women nurses.

Here are just a few of the comments:

“Just another happy old guy” wrote: “I only accept female nurses at my bedside. The lovely smile, sweet perfume, and wonderful bosoms make my day, every day. A guy tending me is advised to wear a steel cup.”

“cdg” wrote: “Female nurses with large bosoms should earn more than their male (or flat-chested female) counterparts.”

“Steve” wrote: “I think female nurses should be paid on the basis of how hot they are.”

And finally, my personal favorite, which was posted by “MCP”: “Hooters is going to start a nursing school.”

I should say right now that I am not against Hooters. I’m not against women (and men) who work at Hooters. In fact, this post is not even about Hooters. I was just so struck by the phrase, that I just had to title this post with it.

I realize that I’m probably at fault here, because I thought that we as a society had gotten past sexy nurse costumes for Halloween. In fact, I now know that the “naughty nurse” is alive and well. An episode of the NBC sitcom “Whitney” is one recent example.

It’s not all bad news. There are others out there such as Sandy Summers of The Truth About Nursing, and those at National Nurses United who fight for nurses (male and female nurses) to promote the profession and to expose these stereotypes in the public domain.

Now, perhaps those who posted those comments to Male Nurses Make More Money were just joking. If so, I guess I just don’t think sexist nurse-talk is funny.

I’m a nurse. I’m a woman and I have a PhD. Don’t insult me with your talk of “boobs” and sweet-smelling perfume.

This article originally appeared on Huffington Post on March 8, 2013.

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