If you have not heard, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that includes specific recommendations for the inclusion of LGBTI health in continuing medical education (CME). The law amends the current cultural competence law to include information pertinent to the appropriate treatment of, and provision of care to, the LGBTI communities. If you want to read the law, click here. The law is actually quite short and very easy to read and understand.
If you have been a follower of our blog, you know that we have discussed (or at least mentioned) the need for all healthcare professionals to have cultural competency training specific to LGBT care (see these past blogs: here, here, and here). Thus, it was a nice surprise to see that this law was passed in California!
There is no doubt that physicians are integral to patient care. Patients often view them as an “authority” figure. A discriminatory experience with a physician can have dire consequences. The LGBT patient who experienced the discrimination may defer or delay seeing other healthcare providers, leading to negative health outcomes. Thus, I do not want to minimize the victory in California and the implications to appropriate care for LGBT people.
However, with this victory in hand, we must continue advocating for other professions to do the same. Nursing represents the largest healthcare profession in the United States. Nurses are often the first and last healthcare professional a patient sees. Also, the Affordable Care Act resulted in millions of people receiving health insurance and an increase in demand for primary care providers. As a result, the demand for nurse practitioners has increased. The new law in California will have no implications to nurses, including nurse practitioners. This type of mandated cultural competence education needs to be extended to ALL health professions, especially nursing.
GLMA has advocated for and supported the California bill since 2011. Although GLMA cannot be credited as the sole inspiration for this bill, their policy work definitely played a role. This is good news for the newly established GLMA nursing section, Nurses Advancing LGBT Health Equality. I hope that the new nursing leadership team can release similar cultural competency position statements. Other healthcare professionals reading this blog should pressure their professional organizations to do the same.