Understanding the Stigma in Women’s Health

nursing school scholarship

We received hundreds of submissions for the 2021 BoardVitals Nursing School Scholarship. Applicants were asked to answer the question “Can you describe a nursing industry trend that’s caught your eye? Why does it interest you?”

Our 2nd place winner, Medjine Pierre, is a registered nurse who is currently pursuing her Master’s as a Nurse Practitioner. For her scholarship essay, she wrote about the stigma in women’s health and what she is doing to help tackle the issue. As our second-place winner, Medjine was awarded $1,000 to put towards educational expenses as she reaches her goal of working in women’s health as a nurse practitioner. Congratulations to Medjine and to all of our winners! Check out Medjine’s essay below.

Working as a registered nurse while advancing myself within my career as a Family Nurse Practitioner, I have identified a clinical problem at my gynecological clinical rotation. I have noticed that there is a stigma in women’s health. The Patriarchal structure of medical studies and culture here in the United States contribute to a lower quality of care for women. Gender bias in healthcare is systemic and unconscious and shapes what we know and the quality of the care that patients receive. Women comprise approximately half of the population. The clinical problem is many young girls and women lack knowledge on their reproductive system. This is problematic because these patients can’t make the best-informed decision based on their care with limited understanding. Many providers speak in medical jargon and don’t have the time to explain everything fully to the patient. In addition, there is the prevalence of misdiagnoses which can be related to the lack of research involving the female body. This creates a gap in understanding women’s health.

To help the various challenges related to women’s health. I started a nonprofit organization called Let’s Talk Health Ladies, Inc. The mission of this organization is to educate females aged 8-30 about reproductive health, especially in lower-income communities. Environmental and socioeconomic status determines what resources are available to a patient. With my organization, we educate everyone regardless of their socioeconomic status. We are easily accessible online for women to learn about their bodies. Every week we have an assigned topic and educate daily. We discuss many topics including sex education, STDs, methods of contraceptives, menstrual cycle, vaginal hygiene, and endocrine disorders. In the organization, five of the members are health care professionals with a passion to volunteer and give back to the community. We believe understanding your body and taking an initiative to stay in good health at a young age guides one future health. We have had collaborations with multiple women’s organizations and presented on various topics related to women’s health to help women understand their bodies more and take steps to better health. We have received successful feedback from our audience. Many of our viewers have stated we are increasing their understanding of various topics and they have taken our advice for vaginal hygiene. One of the most common gynecological issues is discharge. There is definitely a lack of knowledge of the appropriate cleaning products to use or undergarments. Patient education is vital in any specialty. Health education is not taught enough in high schools and colleges. Health education primarily focused on women’s health should be integrated into all women’s education as an elective class. The lifespan of women’s health should be taught to help all women know what to expect as they age.

Lastly, society has favored the male’s bodies in medicine, men and women symptoms can present differently for the same condition. The stigma in women’s health can cause a delay in diagnosis and treatment as well as mental stress, fear, and depression on the patients.

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