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LGBTQ+ Care: Training and Resources for Nurses

Kristen Hamlin
Updated October 3, 2023
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    Expand your skill set and cultural competency working with LGBTQ+ patients with these free or low-cost continuing education and training courses.
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    It may come as a surprise that accredited nursing schools in the U.S. do not always require training or coursework related to disparities in healthcare for LGBTQ+ patients. Nurses’ HEALE, a program that equips nurses to care for the elder LGBTQ+ population, points out there is currently no mandate to address inequity in LGBTQ+ care within a nursing curriculum. However, because this community does experience a higher rate of disparity in access to healthcare, most providers agree that LGBTQ+ healthcare should be covered in training.

    Ensuring quality healthcare for LGBTQ+ people, including intersex and asexual individuals, increases overall well-being and life expectancy. It may also help to lower healthcare costs, making care more accessible. This can be especially important among youth, who face significant stigmatization and discrimination that contribute to poor health outcomes. It is the responsibility of nurses and other providers to close these gaps and improve healthcare for this population.

    On this page, find a selection of continuing education courses designed to give nurses the culturally competent skills and knowledge they need to provide more equitable care and create welcoming environments for their LGBTQ+ patients. These courses cover a range of topics, including why sexuality education is a must for adolescents, using more inclusive language, and understanding how to manage specific conditions.

    Most programs are accredited and provide continuing nursing education (CNE) credits and contact hours that apply toward license renewal requirements. Nurses in Washington, D.C., for example, must complete LGBTQ+-specific continuing education. Before enrolling in any program for credit, confirm that your state’s board of nursing will accept it.

    LGBTQ+ Care Training Programs and Resources

    The National LGBTQIA+ Health Education Center

    The National LGBTQIA+ Health Education Center is committed to preparing healthcare providers to deliver the most optimal care to LGBTQIA+ people via a selection of online webinars and self-paced learning modules. Both the webinars and modules are eligible for higher education credit, with most counting for CNE or continuing medical education (CME) credits.

    The organization recommends all providers begin with the general introductory webinar, Achieving Health Equity for LGBTQIA+ People (2020). It covers basic terminology and concepts, as well as best practices for working with LGBTQIA+ patients. Other module options address more specific topics. These might include working with patients in different age groups, specific health conditions (such as diabetes, sexually transmitted diseases or infections, and reproductive health), and adopting strategies to reorganize departments for greater inclusivity.

    As a program of The Fenway Institute, all of the educational resources offered by the National LGBTQIA+ Health Education Center are free.

    LGBTQ: Culturally Competent Care Considerations Nursing CE Course

    Available online at NursingCE, this 2.0 CNE course is accredited by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). It is designed to prepare healthcare providers who work with LGBTQ patients to improve community health. In the course, learners explore issues related to LGBTQ health, develop culturally competent skills and language, and adopt gender-affirming medical interventions.

    You can complete the online educational module for free and then sign up to take the assessment. Credit is awarded for an assessment score of 80% or higher. You only need to pay a nominal fee if you choose to print your credit certificate.

    GLMA Continuing Education Resources

    GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality is the world’s largest and oldest professional association for LGBTQ healthcare providers. They are committed to advancing the healthcare of the LBGTQ community, including asexual and intersex people, through continuing education opportunities including an annual conference and online webinars.

    GLMA’s free, four-part online webinar series, Quality Healthcare for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender People, is not offered for CNE/CME credit. Yet, the series is valuable to providers who wish to understand the needs of LGBTQ patients, create welcoming and inclusive environments, and provide exceptional care for transgender patients.

    Other educational opportunities at the GLMA annual conference can be completed for CME and CNE credit. Accredited by the California Board of Registered Nursing, these educational programs are offered through the conference typically held in September. Once completed, nurses can request a certificate for a small fee. The conference is open to all healthcare providers.

    Nurses’ Health Education About LGBTQ Elders (HEALE) Cultural Competency Curriculum

    The Nurses’ HEALE curriculum helps elevate nursing skills in delivering culturally competent care to older or elderly members of the LGBTQ community. Many community members face significant barriers to care and often avoid routine care due to fears of discrimination.

    The HEALE program is delivered in person by trained educators who visit healthcare facilities. The six-module curriculum covers a range of issues related to LGBTQ elders, including HIV and aging, sex and sexuality, clarifying terms like asexual, legal issues, and caring for transgender elders. Nurses earn 1.0 CNE for each completed module.

    The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Community

    This $15 course offered through continuingEDUCATION is approved for 1.5 contact hours by multiple agencies, including the ANCC, the California Board of Registered Nursing, and the District of Columbia Board of Nursing. Delivered as an online course, it seeks to give nurses greater insight into issues the LGBTQ community faces when accessing healthcare.

    A wide range of healthcare providers, including nurses, physical and occupational therapists, social workers, and pharmacists, would find the course beneficial. It covers the history of the LGBTQ community and their interactions and experiences with healthcare. It also offers general practice guidelines for all providers in caring for LGBTQ patients.

    LGBTQ Cultural Competence Training

    Nurses receive two contact hours when they complete this training focused on providing respectful and quality healthcare to patients who identify as LGBTQ+, including intersex and asexual individuals. This course from Wild Iris Medical Education aims to give nurses tools to eliminate discrimination or stigmatization in healthcare by covering such topics as legal issues, privacy, delivering culturally competent care, and managing risk factors and their clinical implications.

    The $18 course is accredited by the ANCC and approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing. The material is delivered online via a self-paced module, followed by an online assessment. Only students who earn 70% or higher on the assessment earn credit. Nurses in Washington, D.C. should complete the District of Columbia-specific version of the course.

    It’s About Time: Why Students Deserve Comprehensive Sexuality Education

    Offered by the National Association of Student Nurses (NASN), this program was originally a presentation at the NASN 2019 Conference. The course presents a case for more comprehensive sexuality education beyond the traditional “abstinence only” approach. It shows how it is vital to improving public health outcomes in teens and young adults. The course also discusses how the current approaches to sexual education exclude LGBTQ+ and other marginalized groups, putting them at risk for poor health outcomes.

    Designed for nurses interested in child and adolescent health and development, the course is free to NASN members and $20 for nonmembers. Nurses earn 1.25 contact hours upon completion of the online modules and assessment. The course is accredited by ANCC.

    Additional Resources for LGBTQ+ Care

    • GLMA Healthcare Provider Directory

      GLMA hosts a free directory of healthcare providers welcoming to LGBTQ patients. GLMA requires providers to affirm their commitment to the health of the LGBTQ community. Members of GLMA and associated community organizations are noted in the directory.
    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

      The CDC provides a comprehensive overview of healthcare-related issues and resources for individuals and healthcare providers.
    • GLBT Health Access Project (Community Standards of Practice)

      A collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the standards of care outlines a framework for healthcare providers to ensure equitable access, culturally competent healthcare professionals, and a more responsive environment.
    • Trans-Health.com

      A comprehensive site for the transgender community, Trans-Health offers reliable information related to health issues (physical and mental), aging, sexuality, transitioning, surgery, and more. The site includes several resource directories, such as a directory of gender-affirming medical providers and surgeons.
    • Office on Womens Health

      This government resource focuses on a wide range of womens health issues, including those dealing with sexuality, relationships, and sexual health.
    • LGBT Cancer Network

      The network provides valuable resources to support members of the LGBTQ community who are dealing with cancer and promotes access to LGBTQ-friendly healthcare. The organization also helps patients manage a cancer diagnosis and delivers up-to-date information and assistance.
    • Healthcare Equality Index 2020

      The equality index is an objective benchmarking tool that evaluates more than 1,700 healthcare facilities on policies and practices that influence the equity and inclusion of the LGBTQ community including patients, visitors, and employees.
    • Providing Ethical and Compassionate Health Care to Intersex Patients

      Provided by the nonprofit group InterAct, this guide outlines healthcare policies that support the care for intersex people who are born with or develop differences in sex traits or reproductive anatomy.
    • Providing Affirmative Care for Patients with Non-binary Gender Identities

      A guide for all members of a healthcare organization, this resource provides terms and definitions, expert-informed practices, and data on how staff members can improve experiences and offer inclusive care for patients with nonbinary gender identities.

    Reviewed by:

    Portrait of Angelique Geehan

    Angelique Geehan

    A queer Asian gender-binary nonconforming parent, Angelique Geehan founded Interchange, a consulting group that offers anti-oppression support through materials and process assessments, staff training, and community building. Geehan works to support and repair the connections people have to themselves and their families, communities, and cultural practices.

    She organizes as a part of National Perinatal Association’s Health Equity Workgroup, the Health and Healing Justice Committee of the National Queer and Trans Asian and Pacific Islander Alliance, the Houston Community Accountability and Transformative Justice Collective, the Taking Care Study Group, QTPOC+ Family Circle, and Batalá Houston.

    Geehan is a paid member of our Healthcare Review Partner Network. Learn more about our review partners.

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