The continuing medical education event brought together local and national experts in the field.
To help primary care doctors better understand and more effectively treat the growing number of transgender patients in the US, PCOM recently hosted a continuing medical education lecture on transgender medicine, which brought together local and national experts in the field to speak on a variety of topics such as continuity of care, counseling services, surgical options and hormone treatments.
Among the event’s speakers was Rachel Levine, MD, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s appointee for Physician General—and the first transgender woman to hold the title. She discussed transgender medicine among pediatrics and adolescents, and called for more gender confirmation care providers in Pennsylvania. She also stressed that gender identity is more than just one’s physical characteristics.
“Gender identity is up here,” she said, pointing to her head, “not down there.”
Other speakers included PCOM alumni AC Demidont, DO ’00, symposium co-chair and director of transgender medicine at the CIRCLE CARE Center in Norwalk, Conn.; Christine McGinn, DO ’95, founder of the Papillion Gender Wellness Center in New Hope, Pa.; Sherman Leis, DO ’67, professor and chair, plastic and reconstructive surgery, and founder of the Philadelphia Center for Transgender Surgery; Joan Grzybowski, DO ’87, assistant professor, family medicine, who focuses on LGBTQ health; Monique Gary, DO '09, breast surgical oncologist at Grandview Health in Sellersville, Pa.; and Kathy Rumer, DO '00, aesthetic and reconstructive surgeon at Rumer Cosmetic Surgery, Ardmore, Pa.
Traditionally, it has been difficult for this population to receive adequate care; a recent study by Lambda Legal found that 70 percent of transgender patients had experienced discrimination in health care, and another study by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National LGBTQ Task Force found that 33 percent either postponed treatment or did not seek preventive care due to those past experiences.
“There is a lack of continuity of care among transgender individuals,” said Lisa McBride, PhD, chief diversity officer and symposium co-chair. “Because primary care providers are often on the front lines of treating this population, it was important for us to bring them together to understand not only how best to provide care, but to ensure that care is maintained throughout the healthcare system.”
Thus far, the College has taken several steps to augment its medical education curriculum, to better prepare DO and physician assistant studies students to address LGBTQ issues, including an interactive course for second year students to learn more about the unique health disparities facing this community, such as rates of HIV and cancer.
The College is also making its campuses in Philadelphia and Georgia more welcoming to transgender individuals who want to practice medicine—research shows that patients are more likely to trust a clinician who shares their background. These include the establishment of the LGBTQIA subcommittee of the President’s Diversity Council; the establishment of Safe Zones on both campuses; and the construction of gender-neutral restrooms.
Founded in 1899, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine has trained more than 15,000 highly competent, caring physicians, health practitioners and behavioral scientists who practice a “whole person” approach, treating people, not just symptoms. PCOM offers the doctor of osteopathic medicine, doctor of pharmacy and doctor of psychology degrees and graduate programs in mental health counseling, school psychology, physician assistant studies, forensic medicine, organizational development and leadership, and biomedical sciences. Our students learn the importance of health promotion, education and service to the community and, through PCOM’s Healthcare Centers, provide care to the medically underserved populations in inner city and rural locations.
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