New York is filled with driven people that are making a social impact throughout the five boroughs and beyond, and Dr. Jan Kaminsky is no exception. She is an Assistant Professor of Nursing at the CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS), teaching in their online nursing degree programs, is Director of Education at Rainbow Health Consulting, and is also developing a National LGBTQ+ Nurses Association. Gothamist chatted with Dr. Kaminsky to find out more about all of the incredible work she is doing at CUNY SPS and in the LGBTQ+ healthcare field.

•Can you share a bit about your background and how you and your wife created Rainbow Health Consulting?

I have been a Registered Nurse for a decade and a half, and throughout that time I have also had a personal interest and focus on LGBTQ+ issues. I co-founded an organization that serves transgender and gender fluid youth, and I started to speak on the health concerns facing various communities within the LGBTQ+ world. It took a couple of years of planning and research before we launched the company, but we have really seen the dire need there is for ALL health professionals to be able to increase access and provide improved care for LGBTQ+ patients and families.

Health disparities exist across the LGBTQ+ community, including increased rates of some cancers, substance use, obesity, STIs, depression, and suicidal ideations and attempts, among other concerns. We provide training both in person and via webinar for health care providers and support staff in diverse clinical settings so that they may better serve their LGBTQ+ patients, resulting in better patient outcomes for all!

• How has your work with Rainbow Health Consulting shaped your teaching philosophy/experience at CUNY SPS?

Rainbow Health Consulting has deeply informed my work with CUNY SPS students in that it has exposed me to both the knowledge deficit and the deep desire to learn how to better serve many types of patients. Since many students may have started their education in regions where this type of patient is not addressed in nursing education, and with the large communities of LGBTQ+ patients that we serve in the greater NYC area, knowledge about these issues is paramount.

•It’s so cool that both you and your wife are at the helm. What’s the best part about working with her?

We have been married for sixteen years, together for almost twenty, and are always searching for ways to change the world together. She has a strong background in education and curriculum design, and has great strengths in fiscal management. I am more of an ideas and presentation person; she helps to drill it down to manageable learning objectives that we can bring to the organizations we serve. The best part about working with her is knowing that we have the same goals and high standards and expectations for Rainbow Health Consulting, and that we are working together to achieve them!

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•What are some of the most common concerns or questions you receive from health care providers?

This is a great question. Health care providers have a wide range of knowledge when we first meet them, and so each organization arrives at this information from a different angle. One statement that we hear frequently is “I treat all of my patients the same way,” implying that of course they provide a high standard of care for every patient that they see in their clinical setting.

It is wonderful to hear that people are providing a high level of care for everyone, but during our trainings we break down the health disparities that LGBTQ+ people face and how important it is to recognize that. We also talk a lot about terminology and definitions, so that health care providers and support staff can provide a welcoming and affirming environment that keeps LGBTQ+ in care.

•What are some recent developments in LGBTQ+ health care that you are excited/optimistic about?

This is truly an exciting time for LGBTQ+ health as there is finally a focus on topics that so many LGBTQ+ individuals and families. Some of the most significant developments include simply starting to collect sexual orientation and gender identity (known as “SOGI”) data in large research studies, surveys, and health records. Effective data gathering will help to set clinical and research priorities for the community.

Health professions students are being trained in best practices, while school personnel are implementing policies to keep our youngest LGBTQ+ students safe and sound. We recognize the high risks that many LGBTQ+ youth face with homelessness and suicidality, so research and programs that decrease those risks should also be at the forefront. HIV/AIDS infection in young LGBTQ+ persons still remains a great risk as well, and should continue to be a research focus.

•Do you have any advice for students/young professionals looking to work in LGBTQ+ health care?
You can make such a difference in this emerging field, as we start to better understand how to serve LGBTQ+ folks and their families. It is a time when the opportunities for research and knowledge building seem almost endless, and health care providers and others are quite hungry for knowledge on how to better serve their LGBTQ+ patients.

I recommend learning terminology first, and if you yourself are not an LGBTQ+ person, that you interact frequently with LGBTQ+ persons so that you can better understand the community. We need all of the non-LGBTQ+ “allies” as well who can build bridges of health care between us all.
Barriers to access must be broken down and disparities minimized. With respect and understanding, you could be the health care provider that makes the difference to a patient as they consider adhering to a recommend care plan or not. So many patients and families have faced such extreme discrimination and stigma that your warmth and knowledge will likely be welcomed!

•As you develop your inter professional course at CUNY SPS, what are some of the topics you are looking to cover?

I am very excited to be building an inter professional LGBTQ+ health course at CUNY SPS! I plan to include a variety of topics including (but not limited to):
• Terminology, demographics, discrimination, and health disparities
• Primary care of lesbian and bisexual + women; gay and bisexual+ men and transgender and gender fluid patients
• LGBTQ+ elder health
• Fertility, parenthood, and care of LGBTQ+-headed families

I hope this elective course will bring a group of interested students together in support of a cause that is important to all of them.

•Between teaching at CUNY, working at Rainbow Health and developing the Nurses Association-- you’ve got a lot of (awesome) stuff going on! When you’re not working, do you have any go-to NYC spots/activities that you’d recommend to Gothamist readers?

My wife and I have three school-age children, so one of our favorite city days is to stroll around a museum together (we recently saw the Warhol exhibit at the Whitney), have a tasty lunch at Dim Sum Palace or divine Druze hummus at Gazala’s, and take in a show with the kids using our Theatre Development Fund educator discount! There are so many ways to spend a great day without spending a lot—we’re just as happy to play frisbee in Central Park and then have a hot dog from a cart for lunch as well!

I welcome Gothamist readers to reach out to me anytime at jan@rainbowhealth.consulting or jan.kaminsky@cuny.edu, and check out our services at Rainbow Health Consulting for more info! As you mentioned, I am also in the early stages of forming a National LGBTQ+ Nurses Association so I would love to connect with LGBTQ+ and ally Nurses who would like to get involved!

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For more information about the CUNY School of Professional Studies and how to continue your own education, visit sps.cuny.edu and see what works for you.

This post is a sponsored collaboration between CUNY SPS and Gothamist staff.