It’s a typical scenario: you walk into the doctor’s office, possibly after several postponements, afraid of what they might find. Will your blood pressure be up? Or maybe your cholesterol, you think. A myriad of possible underlying conditions flash suddenly through your head.
But what if, instead of health worries, your fear was based on who you are.
That, for most of our history, has been the experience of LGBTQ+ populations – in health care and elsewhere.
Fortunately, however, that’s changing.
In today’s health care industry, the ideal is no longer one size fits all. Instead, providers nationwide are now embracing a much larger umbrella, with treatments tailored to the individual and based on compassion and respect. This transformative change is important to wide demographics, but none more so than the LGBTQ+ population.
This expansive group – also known as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, and other non-heteronormative identities (LGBTQ+) – exists at a unique cross-section of an ever-changing health care landscape.
With the publication of the Institute of Medicine’s “Report on the Health of LGBT People,” and the National Academies’ comprehensive follow-up report, “Understanding the Well Being of LGBTQI Populations,” plus the inclusion of LGBTQ+ people as a population of focus in Healthy People 2030, the health concerns of this population have come to the forefront of medical, social and political thinking.
For many in the LGBTQ+ community, requesting care can be an uncomfortable experience – especially when lack of access, historical prejudices or gaps in knowledge can make pursuing care difficult. That’s true of everything from routine checkups to HIV+ treatment to corrective surgery.
Even today, as most larger organizations, like HMOs, strive for more inclusive care, many LGBTQ+ patients still struggle to feel accepted, included or heard.
In fact, more than half (56%) of LGBTQ+ individuals, including 70% of transgender or gender non-conforming people, report experiencing some form of discrimination and/or harsh language from health care professionals (Caceres et al., 2020).
And because of this, specialized care – focused on humane and compassionate treatment –is necessary. That’s where CSUN’s Graduate Certificate in LGBTQ+ Health comes in.
This program trains current and future health practitioners and community leaders to develop and apply best practices to reduce health disparities and improve health outcomes for LGBTQ+ populations.
Not only is this program delivered fully online, but it’s only one year from start to finish. In that time, learners develop hands-on skills and strategies desired by some of the largest employers in health care – from Kaiser Permanente to Facey Medical Group. They also study the historical conditions, in both industry and society, which led to limited or inadequate care for this vulnerable population.
Unlike many similar programs, CSUN’s certificate is not only more comprehensive, but it’s centered on the LGBTQ+ experience. The difference, again, is one of intent. Some programs are designed to professionally train participants; others, meanwhile, focus on the community. CSUN does both.
This program is a major step toward ensuring millions of Americans receive fair and compassionate treatment in facilities across the country. It’s also a significant opportunity for health care professionals to expand their skillsets and specialize in a high-demand field.
Indeed, in the coming years, the need for such specialized care will only grow.
For one, LGBTQ+ health now represents billions of dollars in annual revenue. And that, in large part, is the result of changing social norms. But the industry is still catching up.
Unsurprisingly, companies intend to capitalize on this emerging market, which is why they’re aggressively recruiting graduates of programs such as CSUN’s Graduate Certificate in LGBTQ+ Health.
But more importantly, beyond any financial reasons, this transformation in health care is a human one.
Jason Gibby is a Copywriter for California State University, Northridge. For more information about California State University, Northridge, please visit go.csun.edu.
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