"The best thing about my job is seeing the massive improvement in the quality of life of the people I see."
Lucy is an Endocrine Nursing Specialist and works at a Gender Identity Clinic supporting GP’s and patients with Gender Dysphoria. Lucy studied a Diploma in Adult Nursing at City, gaining the necessary clinical skills to develop her career in a specialist clinic of high importance and interest. Lucy has future plans to study the Advanced Physical Assessment and Non-medical Prescribing course at City to further understand the use of Hormone Therapy as treatment.
Where and when did you achieve your first registration and what further training or education have you done?
I completed my nurse training with City University of London, completing a Postgraduate Diploma in Adult Nursing. I was able to do this as I had a previous degree (in archaeology) and I was able to use APEL to evidence prior healthcare experience and obtain my qualification within 2 years.
Upon qualification I took up a newly qualified nurse rotation scheme at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. This gave me a varied first year, packed with the learning of new skills within each clinical area. I then went on to work in Intensive Care for a year, completing the ICU Transition Course at Guy’s and St Thomas, which broadened my skill-set further and deepened my understanding of anatomy and physiology.
What is your current or most recent job title and what did it involve?
My current role is a big change from ICU - I am now working at a Gender Identity Clinic as an Endocrine Nurse Specialist. Not your everyday nursing job! I have a particular interest in this area through having a family member that is transgender, and I have come to realise the great need for support services.
Who are your clients/patients?
My role involves assessing and supporting the health and wellbeing of people, with a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, who are on cross-sex hormone therapy. Gender dysphoria is the name given to the mental and physical distress of experiencing your gender identity as incongruent with the gender you were assigned at birth. In this situation most people seek hormone therapy as part of treatment, and many, but not all, go on to have surgery.
I work within a team of gender specialists that includes endocrinologists, psychiatrists, psychologists and speech and language therapists, to help people work out the best care pathway for them as an individual. I work closely with GPs and patients, and communicate as much as I can with both to ensure that hormone therapy is prescribed, administered and monitored safely. This is important as I see people from all over the country and most GPs do not encounter gender dysphoria or transgender patients that often. I make a point of encouraging my patients to understand and manage their own general health, such as having a healthy diet and taking exercise, in order to support their own wellbeing. It is important that people understand the health implications of hormone therapy, and to make sure they attend check-ups with their GP and have their safety monitoring blood tests done.
Do you work full time, part time and any particular pattern of hours?
I work full time, Monday to Friday at the Gender Identity Clinic, usually 9-5, but my employers support flexible working should I wish to change my hours.
What are the best things about your job?
The best thing about my job is seeing the massive improvement in the quality of life of the people I see. Gender dysphoria is often debilitating, and causes people to completely withdraw from life. A survey by Stonewall found that almost 50% of transgender people have actually attempted suicide. What I am seeing in my role is the life changing effect of supporting people to live in their true gender identity - to be accepted socially, as who they really are.
Do you have any thoughts about your future career or acitivties?
In terms of my future career ambitions - I am hoping to complete a Master’s in Endocrinology (online learning via Queen Mary’s University), as well as courses in Advanced Physical Assessment and Non-medical Prescribing (at City University) . These courses will allow me to better support my patients, understand endocrine complications, and the interplay of other health conditions with gender dysphoria and hormone therapy.
In the long term, I want to become a Nurse Consultant in the field of Gender Identity. I hope to improve education and awareness of gender dysphoria for healthcare workers in all fields, including nursing and medical students.