A curriculum shift is happening at the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences to ensure the coming generations of students are sufficiently educated in the health-care needs of the 2SLGBTQI+ community.
2SLGBTQI+ is the official acronym used by the Canadian government to recognize Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and others who identify as a part of sexual and gender diverse communities.
In a 2019 House of Commons Standing Committee on Health report, it was identified that there exists health inequities within each of the 2SLGBTQI+ communities, and how each community experiences these inequities is different. The report also recommended that sexual and gender diversity be included in health professional training. Factors contributing to these inequities include discrimination and stigmatization.
The work at UBC is called PRIDE-RX, funded by a Teaching and Learning Enhancement grant awarded in 2021 and 2022, and is spearheaded by pharmacy lecturers Tristan Lai and Alex Tang. Using the grant, Lai and Tang are in the process of including 2SLGBTQI+ curriculum into each of the four years of the Entry-to-Practice Doctor of Pharmacy program. The initiative has partnered with community organizations, including AIDS Vancouver, Health Initiative for Men, QMUNITY, Community-Based Research Centre, Trans Care BC, WISH Drop-In Centre Society, in addition to subject matter experts and pharmacy students from UBC.
As of 2023, the first two years of the new curriculum have already been implemented.
The components of the 2SLGBTQI+ curriculum are broken down as follows:
- In program year-one, students can expect to attend a mandatory lecture introducing the concepts of sex, gender, sexuality, and the social determinants of health for people in the 2SLGBTQI+ communities.
- In program year-two, a mandatory three-hour workshop expands on the content introduced to students in the first year. The workshop includes a panel discussion where three 2SLGBTQI+ community members speak with students, and includes a questions and answers segment.
- In program year-three, students have the option to enroll in an elective course, which focuses on the pharmacists’ role in providing care to 2SLGBTQI+ community members. The course will cover topics including providing culturally safe care and relevant therapeutic conditions, such as mental health, substance use, and gender-affirming therapies.
- In program year-four, all students will complete an online module in a fourth-year seminar course to learn how they can build a 2SLGBTQI+ inclusive pharmacy practice. In addition, students who completed the third year elective course may pursue a practicum opportunity in fourth year. In this practicum, students will be paired with a 2SLGBTQI+ community partner organization and spend eight weeks immersed in hands-on learning, experiential training and working directly with 2SLGBTQI+ members.
“We recognize that there’s a huge gap in terms of knowledge and skills within the current curriculum in the UBC pharmacy program to sufficiently meet the healthcare needs of 2SLGBTIQ+ communities,” said Lai. “This integrated 2SLGBTQI+ curriculum within the Entry-to-Practice Doctor of Pharmacy program here at UBC involves not only didactic learning but also experiential learning to hopefully affect changes within the pharmacy profession here in British Columbia.”
For more information about PRIDE-RX, please visit: tlef.ubc.ca/funded-proposals/entry/878/
"This work is vital"
“PRIDE-RX is an incredible project, which will address curricular gaps regarding the pharmaceutical care needs of 2SLGBTQI+ people. This work is vital, as pharmacists are in an optimal position to deliver affirming and competent care to these communities – but they need to be equipped with the language, confidence, communication and clinical skills to do so. 2SLGBTQI+ are often overlooked in curriculum or included only in cursory ways. PRIDE-RX is working with an advisory of subject matter experts, faculty, and community partners to support the development and implementation of targeted curricular content. Future generations of pharmacists will have the capacity and commitment to deliver inclusive care. As a queer and trans person, this work means a lot to me personally. Not only is the PRIDE-RX curricular development process grounded in anti-oppression frameworks, but as someone who has had less than ideal experiences interacting with pharmacists, I can only look forward to the positive impacts that this project will have on my own future care experiences.” — A.J. Lowik
A.J. Lowik is a postdoctoral research fellow with UBC Faculty of Medicine’s Centre for Gender and Sexual Health Equity. Their work focuses on understanding and improving trans people’s experiences of health care, with a particular focus on reproductive health. They are also a proud member of the PRIDE-RX Queer Curriculum Advisory Committee.