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Nursing student writes the book on trans healthcare
by Matt Simonette
2019-06-15

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A nursing student who graduated this year from Resurrection University wrote a manual on healthcare delivery for transgender and gender non-conforming persons during her undergraduate clinical work.

Naomi Blumenthal, a Chicago native, had been involved with LGBT activism since she was 14 years old. When she began her undergraduate work at Resurrection University, she noticed a significant lack in nursing textbook information about LGBT-related healthcare-delivery.

"I approached the university about about additional supplemental education opportunities for students," she recalled. "They were really open to the idea, and back in November they allowed me to bring in a speaker on sexual orientation and gender identity considerations in healthcare."

Throughout her clinical experiences, Blumenthal was aware of a number of challenges facing transgender patients and healthcare personnel charged with delivering services to them.

"I had seen misgendering occur, people giggling at the nurse's station, or just things you wouldn't see with cisgender patients," Blumenthal said. "I've also heard from many friends that they fear going to receive healthcare at places besides Howard Brown."

Blumenthal began a capstone project at Northwestern Memorial Hospital's clinical role transition program in her last year. The hospital had just begun accepting patients for gender-affirming surgeries, so she saw the opportunity for creating a resource manual for those procedures. She did an extensive literature review and studied procedures published by organizations such as Boston-based Fenway Health.

Blumenthal was looking to compile important terminologies as well as offer a comprehensive explanation of the transition process, listings of Chicago-area resources, and guidelines for standard care from transgender and gender nonconforming persons.

"The very first day that I was a student on the surgical unit at Northwestern, I approached the manager of the unit in the morning," Blumenthal recalled. "She was very open and excited about it as well."

Blumenthal also compiled information from two surveys of the Chicago LGBT community; one asked what community members expected from their nursing care, while the other investigated what information nurses already were aware of.

"I got a lot of positive feedback from those nurses," Blumenthal said. "They were excited to receive a manual giving them information about that population prior to caring for them."

Her ultimate goal was "to create standards of care taught within nursing school, so all patients are prepared to take care of all patients competently, without giggling, misgendering, or any of those sorts of things."

Blumenthal has been weighing what to do next. She said she's received some job offers but is considering graduate work to further investigate the specifics of healthcare delivery for transgender and gender non-conforming persons.

"Every person should feel comfortable receiving care at every organization," added Blumenthal.


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