A training class to better prepare PA students to care for the unique needs of members of the LGBTQ+ community is available at the Hofstra Northwell School of Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies. Preliminary outcomes data show that the program significantly increased knowledge among PA students that was sustained over time.  

“Graduating PAs need to be confident and prepared to treat transgender patients that they will encounter in the many specialties that they enter,” said Gina Pontrelli, DHSc, PA-C, who is assistant professor at Hofstra Northwell School of Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies. “Re-evaluating the curriculum to provide focused training of PAs to better prepare them for transgender care is likely to have a much-needed significant and positive impact on the health and welfare of the transgender community.” The training course was developed by Dr Pontrelli and Amy Roberts, PhD, PA-C, who is also assistant professor at the Hofstra PA program, with assistance from Denise Rizzolo, PhD, MPH, PA-C, of the Physician Assistant Education Association. 

In 2021, the program was integrated into an existing didactic PA course, which was restructured to provide high-impact learning modules and assessments designed to refine the care the LGBTQ+ community receive, Dr Pontrelli said.

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Gina Pontrelli, DHSc, PA-C
Gina Pontrelli, DHSc, PA-C

“Instruction was delivered longitudinally throughout the course and encompassed small group activities and problem-based learning facilitated by an LGBTQIA+ panel comprised of individuals spanning the gender spectrum,” Dr Pontrelli said in an interview. “Faculty collaborated with standardized patient educators in the case development process and small group learning sessions. Faculty also defined objectives for the course activities.”

“Students were given clinical cases focused on the progressive development of communication skills in inclusive sexual history taking, counseling, and debriefing performed by panel experts and data-driven materials. The module consisted of 3 sessions, which are 4 hours long, that are delivered during the final didactic semester before students started their clerkship.

Outcomes Data

Students at Hofstra PA program were surveyed on their comfort level providing health care to transgender patients before and immediately after going through the program as well as at 2 and 4 months after completing the program. The results showed a significant positive change in students being able to:

  • Articulate the unique health needs of LGBTQ+ individuals
  • Recommend primary care, anticipatory guidance, and health care maintenance
  • Identify unique resources available to support the health and wellness of LGBTQ+ individuals

Based on the results, the training course will be offered each year to PA students. The initiative is funded by Hofstra’s LGBTQ+ Research Initiative Grant.

Members of the LGBTQ+ community, specifically transgender people, experience mental illness, HIV, sexually transmitted diseases, and physical and sexual violence at higher rates than cisgender individuals. Despite this there are significant disparities in health care delivery to LGBTQ+ due to social, economic, and medical infrastructure as well as a lack of health care providers that are both knowledgeable and compassionate towards this population.


PA studies creates new LGBTQ+ training workshop. News Release. Hofstra University. April 25, 2022. Accessed September 12, 2022. https://news.hofstra.edu/2022/04/25/pa-studies-creates-new-lgbtq-training-workshop/