For a long time, LGBTQ individuals have been segregated; their sexual orientations viewed as a mental disorder according to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (DSM). Significant strides towards attitude-change and social acceptance have been achieved but more is yet to be done in eliminating healthcare disparities faced by these individuals. Nurses, as the primary care-givers have an essential role to play in improving healthcare services provided to members of the LGBTQ community.
Political Actions that can be taken by Nurses
One of the core mandates of nurses is to advocate for the rights of the patients. Nursing leaders must then take an active role in the political processes of the country. This may be done by educating and informing policymakers on the rights and needs of this group as well as the importance of favourable LGBT laws. This is because apart from health disparities, several other legal, political, educational and social issues impact on the health of members of LGBTQ (Ard, 2016). Therefore, influencing policy-making deliberations is essential in improving the wellbeing of this population of people across states.
Nurses also need to engage in collaborative work with members of the LGBTQ to gain insightful knowledge about them. By having a deeper understanding on the needs and the challenges faced by these individuals, institutions can therefore create an all-inclusive environment. Examples of non-discriminatory policies that can be implemented include revision of intake forms to include sexual orientation as well as displaying of educational brochures on LGBTQ health alongside other patients’ health materials. Ard (2016) reports that LGBT patients often search for subtle cues in the environment to determine acceptance. An inclusive environment in the society allows the members of this community to feel welcomed and can thus open up to health practitioners when seeking healthcare services.
Another action that nurses can partake to strengthen their role in policymaking is to participate in policy workshops, seminars and volunteer conferences. These events are venues where they can learn more on modern health issues such as needs of the LGBTQ community and ways to interact with this population. Consequently, nurses can also take part in campaign rallies to create emphasis and public awareness on the rights of the individuals. They can institute behavioral change and keep the general public informed on knowledge of health histories pertaining to the LGBT community. Public awareness is an important step towards eliminating social discriminations on the said group of persons.
Nurses, therefore, have a key role in advocating for patients’ rights as stipulated in the AACN MSN Essentials. They are trained to communicate and collaborate among professional stakeholders for effective provision of patient-centered care (CAN, 2011). This is geared towards improving overall health outcomes, not just LGBTQ individuals.
American College of Nursing. (2011). The essentials of master’s education in nursing. Washington DC. Retrieved from www.aacnnursing.org/portals/42/publications/mastersessentials11.pdf
Ard, K. L. (2016).LGBT health Disparities March 2016The National LGBT Health Education Center. Boston. Retrieved from www.lgbthealtheducation.org/wp-content/uploads/LGBTHealthDisparitiesMar2016.pdf