Dean Sullivan-Marx joins call for 'true health equity' at first National Nursing LGBTQ Health Summit

Dean Sullivan-Marx and other nurse leaders at summit

December 19, 2019

The first National Nursing LGBTQ Health Summit, conceived by the Nursing LGBTQ Summit Advisory Board, was hosted at Columbia University School of Nursing on November 21 and 22. The summit focused on advancing nursing’s progress in addressing LGBTQ health issues and drew deans and other leaders from top U.S. nursing schools, and representatives of nursing organizations, including the American Academy of Nursing and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, as well as the National Institutes of Health. It was a first step toward creating a national health action plan to raise awareness of and improve LGBTQ health.

Charged with mapping out the action plan, participants discussed and brainstormed strategies for bringing attention to LGBTQ health within the nursing profession and around nursing education, research, and practice.

“One in five LGBTQ people do not seek health care because they fear discrimination,” said keynote speaker Perry N. Halkitis, PhD, dean of Rutgers University’s School of Public Health. Moreover, the interaction between discrimination and other minority stressors—race and ethnicity, poverty, geography, lack of insurance—further drives LGBTQ health disparities, he added.

Reducing disparities and improving the health of people who are LGBTQ, participants agreed, will require nursing leadership’s support for increasing LGBTQ-specific content in nursing curricula and in faculty development programs, as well as in research, policy development, and the revamping of practice guidelines.

“The health of all people is paramount. To do this successfully as nurses, we must take coordinated and direct steps to ensure that the LGBTQ community receives care that is equitable and patient-centered," said Eileen M. Sullivan-Marx, PhD, Dean, New York University Rory Meyers College of Nursing and American Academy of Nursing President. "Expanding our knowledge, investing in more research, and creating safe spaces for discussions, such as this National LGBTQ Health Summit, are invaluable to our goal of achieving true health equity.” 

The summit ended with a call to action for nursing to prioritize LGBTQ health through innovations in education, research, and practice and to advance LGBTQ health policy. Outputs of the summit will include the following: publication of a white paper or individual papers that address LGBTQ health in education, research, and practice, with implications for policy; a national LGBTQ health action plan focused on the dynamic intersections among nursing education, research, and practice, with recommendations in each of these arenas and with wide dissemination of the plan through publications, conferences, and social media; and a forum through which participants can network and plan future collaborations.

Members of the National Nursing LGBTQ Health Summit Advisory Board are Patricia Davidson, PhD, Dean, Johns Hopkins School of Nursing; William L. Holzemer, PhD, Dean Emeritus, Rutgers University School of Nursing; Tonda L. Hughes, PhD, Associate Dean, Global Health, Columbia University School of Nursing; David Keepnews, PhD, Professor and Director, DNP in Health Policy, the George Washington University School of Nursing; Ann Kurth, PhD, Dean, Yale School of Nursing; and Eileen M. Sullivan-Marx, PhD, Dean, New York University Rory Meyers College of Nursing. 

Story and photo courtesy of Columbia University School of Nursing