PAEA’s Sexual & Gender Minority/LGBTQ+ Health SIG: A Conversation with Quincy Jones

Are you interested in joining other PA educators in reducing health disparities for LGBTQ+ patients, educating the next generation of compassionate, culturally sensitive PAs, and ending discrimination in your classrooms and communities? PAEA’s Sexual & Gender Minority/LGBTQ+ Health Special Interest Group (SIG) is seeking new members and a co-chair.

The group is a forum for PA educators to meet and exchange ideas and information regarding gender and sexual minorities in PA education, PA practice, and healthcare. Group members have varied interests and expertise in policy issues, research, faculty development, and curricular inclusion related to LGBTQ+ topics. All who are interested are invited to collaborate.

Quincy Jones, MSW, MHS, PA-C

Read our conversation with Quincy Jones, MSW, MHS, PA-C, SIG co-chair, clinical coordinator and assistant professor at Duke University’s PA program, and current PAEA STAR awardee, to learn more about the SIG, creating inclusive cultures, and more.

Tell us more about your passion for serving sexual and gender minority patients.

I’m a social worker by training and then became a PA. I have always worked with populations who are medically underserved, and I’ve always had a passion for making sure that we’re addressing those populations. I saw the need to create content addressing medically underserved patients in our program. I began looking at where this content is in curriculum across the nation and what else we could do to address health disparities in the LGBTQ+ community. That’s where this journey really started.

How did the SIG begin?

I did a presentation at the PAEA Education Forum many years ago about LGBTQ+ health when I began diving into this topic. Several people connected at that presentation, and we all stayed in touch. We started asking questions like, “Are we teaching this in our curriculum?” and “Who else is doing work in this space?” We finally met in person at the 2019 Forum and decided it was time to create a formal group. Our application to become a PAEA SIG was approved, and we had our first meeting in the fall of 2020. Anyone who is interested in this topic is welcome to join us!

What are you looking for in a co-chair?

We’re looking for someone who is interested in taking on a leadership role, and who is passionate about LGBTQ+ health in healthcare and PA education. The co-chair would join me in coordinating meetings, planning for our annual SIG meeting, helping the group focus on what’s happening nationally as it relates to this topic, and offering guidance on what the SIG should take action on. I would love to speak with anyone who is interested – in both becoming a member of the group and joining us as co-chair – to help them learn more. 

What are some of the actions your program has taken to educate students on caring for sexual and gender minority patients?

We have created a really cool elective where students can spend an entire month doing a LGBTQ+ health rotation and participate in trans surgeries. They learn about hormone therapy and work with kids who identify as trans. We’ve also focused in on how to ask the right questions about sexual history without bias, how to ask about people’s pronouns, and how to address patients without making assumptions.

How can programs create inclusive environments for their students and faculty?

It comes down to the climate that we set. When a colleague looked at PA data in May, the number of students who are identifying as sexual and gender minorities is lower than what is present in the US population, which is concerning. Either students are underrepresented in this profession, or they’re afraid to say what their identity is. Nationally, one of our big challenges is ensuring that our curricula is inclusive. If we teach our students about LGBTQ+ health like it’s an abnormal lifestyle, it will come across very differently than if it’s taught as if it’s just part of what we do as healthcare providers.

The other important piece is creating a culture where faculty are representative of the students. Then there’s the question of, even if you do have faculty who identify as LGBTQ+, is the climate at that institution safe enough for them to be out?

Lastly, in all of this, there is history to consider. Healthcare historically has not been accepting of sexual and gender minorities and has not been a safe system. We know that sexual and gender minorities face greater health disparities, and probably other disparities as well, like financial and educational. They challenges they face are very similar to what we see with underrepresented minorities in healthcare professions. We need to do better at targeting underrepresented minorities and bringing them into healthcare professions at every level, and then supporting them in their work.

Are you interested in joining the SIG? Learn more and connect with Quincy in PAEA’s Sexual & Gender Minority/LGBTQ+ Health Professional Learning Community.