Trans-related care at UHS

Thursday, February 02, 2017

University Health Services (UHS) is committed to advancing the health and well-being of our diverse University Community. One way we do this is by providing inclusive, comprehensive health services for all students. UHS has made great strides over the last few years to increase services specific to our trans student population. These efforts include improvements to services covered by the Student Health Plan (SHP), staff diversity and inclusion trainings, updates to our practice management system/electronic health record, and the addition of services specific to transition-related care. Most recently, UHS has started offering consultations and prescriptions for masculinizing and feminizing hormones for the purposes of medical transition.

Masculinizing and feminizing hormone therapy is a primary care service and a medical necessity for many trans individuals. Until recently Princeton students who wanted to initiate hormone therapy, or needed refills of prescriptions for hormones, were referred off campus to a local endocrinologist or outside health center. This practice caused barriers to care and placed undue strain on students, both in terms of cost and time. After considerable preparation, in August 2016, UHS launched this service and began to see students for hormone therapy.

Students are currently able to schedule appointments with Michelle Schramm, APN or Jonathan Pletcher, M.D. for consultations and prescriptions. Michelle Schramm is a Nurse Practitioner in Medical Services and the Coordinator of Sexual Health and Wellness (SHAW). She has a Master’s Degree in Nursing and completed a Graduate Certificate in LGBT Health Policy and Practice from George Washington University in 2015. Ms. Schramm is currently working on her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) through the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a focus on sexual and reproductive health care for sexual minority women and transgender men. Dr. Pletcher, Director of Medical Services, is an Adolescent Medicine Specialist who has provided comprehensive care for transgender individuals for nearly a decade.

Appointments for hormone prescriptions are currently available via consultations with Ms. Schramm or Dr. Pletcher. In addition, all UHS staff participate in professional development trainings and activities to increase knowledge and care regarding issues that affect our transgender and/or gender non-conforming students. For example: Dane Menkin, an Advanced Practice Nurse who works at the Mazzoni Center in Philadelphia, provided an in-service for medical staff clinicians in March regarding expectations and the effects of hormones for medical transition. All UHS administrative staff attended a half-day seminar in 2015 presented by Luca Maurer who is the LGBT Education, Outreach & Services Program Director, Center for Counseling, Health and Wellness at Ithaca College. Additionally, many UHS staff members have attended trainings and workshops on campus sponsored by Human Resources and the LGBT Center over the last few years.

Other information of which to be aware:  In September 2014, gender affirmation surgery was added to the Student Health Plan (SHP) as a covered benefit, and in September, 2015 the cap on this benefit was removed. The SHP office at UHS is also working with Aetna to improve the reimbursement process for transgender covered benefits, in order to reduce barriers to care. UHS’ electronic health record has been modified to assure that students have the ability to indicate a gender different from that which they may have reported to the university. UHS’ information technology team is continually making adjustments to the electronic health record so that gender inclusive language and other related descriptive features are routinely used and optimized. Finally, UHS seeks to identify other opportunities to advance the breadth and depth of our care for transgender student, and we look forward to updating our university community on these developments.

Keep up-to-date on service offerings and initiatives by visiting Trans Care at UHS.