Thursday, October 7, 2010

National Conference of Caring Clinicians

National Summit of Clinicians for Healthcare Justice

I recently spoke at the National Summit of Clinicians for Healthcare Justice Conference in Washington DC. The Conference was sponsored by The Association of Clinicians for the Underserved. I shared my work with the transgender community and their treatment when receiving medical care.

In most cases, they are treated respectfully but unfortunately, without knowing appropriate terms or being made aware of words that may be hurtful, it is easy to offend someone who has spent their life in seclusion of who they are. Also, there are still, at times where people who work in healthcare, not always in medicine who do bring their ignorance to work each day.

I had an opportunity to not only share my work through PULSE of NY but also the work of The Joint Commission and how TJC is helping Hospitals include patients’ and families in patient safety. The Joint Commission has heard the people and now narrowing it down to the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community). Because of my work with this community as an advocate, and as a Commissioner with The Joint Commission, I was invited to speak and participate.

I was first mostly impressed with this organizations mission “to improve the health of America's underserved populations and to enhance the development and support of the health care clinicians serving these populations”. This is an organization supporting medical professionals who not only spend their adult life helping people heal, but then go out of their way to find out how to help them not only physically but to support their individual needs as a human being.

I brought with me William (name has been changed) who shared his own life experience not only as a transgender man, but working in the medical field in a major suburban hospital. William started his presentation with how he has been labeled; a paramedic, emergency room technician, student, friend and up until a few years ago, a lesbian. He has struggled in his own profession to help people understand that he is still the same person on the inside but throughout his transition, did not receive compassion from all who he worked with in the medical field. Part of the challenge to anyone who has compassion is how do you help others who do not share it as passionately understand the importance.

After speaking to a group of about 30 clinicians, I was touched by a medical student who was compassionate and caring and came up to me following the presentation to talk about how much he appreciated us coming to speak to them. I asked him, “How would you react now to a colleague or superior who does not have the same compassion as you?” He had no answer. We still have a long way to go...................

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