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January Member Spotlight with Estephanie Charria


2021 has been a battlefield for reproductive justice, explicitly regarding SRH and abortion access. This month our communications director Erica DC sat down with NSRH member Estephanie Charria, R.N Clinical Research Coordinator who is based in Orlando, Florida. Estephanie has been mobilizing and creating community in our NSRH community and within her direct network. Get to know “Steph” as she covers her passions, how she celebrates, and her hopes with merging communities.

Erica: What made you want to join NSRH?

Estephanie: I just wanted to be with like-minded people. And, you know, to be more actively involved in reproductive rights and justice. At the same time, I have been considering what I can contribute with my hands with you all. NSRH is aligned with my main goal, as I recently created a group called Champions for Health Equity. Currently, the group has  34 members right now. This group is a place where we (healthcare professionals) can have open dialogues with other healthcare professionals regarding systemic racism and reproductive rights, justice, LGBTQ, queer health, disability health, etc., so we can be better. Just because our system is not inclusive of our kind people. (NSRH Disruptors) 

Erica: What is your why behind being in your choice to become a nurse? 

Estephanie: My involvement with reproductive rights and justice started way before I was even thinking about becoming a nurse. I was heavily involved with Planned Parenthood doing community organizing for them. When I was in college, one of my electives (womens’ studies) required working with an organization (I chose Planned Parenthood) and learned of all their resources around SRH and abortion access. As a person who has had an abortion (at the time unaware of Planned Parenthood), during that time, I felt isolated with no one to talk to, so I was grateful to see the work they have been doing for abortion access and the supports around that. I was relieved to be around others who have had abortions and were pro-choice. My passion stemmed from my story, telling it, and how vital these narratives are for others to hear so they know they aren’t alone. I’m currently in neuro research and have learned the importance of advocacy, specifically for SRH and reproductive justice.

Erica: What are some things you hope to do within NSRH and Champions for Health Equity?

Estephanie: Soon, I hope to start a podcast to bridge the gap of conversations around the needs of healthcare workers and patients. I want to share patient stories just so we can have a conversation together asking, What do you need from us (as healthcare professionals?) Our patients have stories that need to be heard.

Erica: Given all that’s happening around abortion rights and access, how do you feel about the long game that's ahead?

Estephanie:  I know it’s going to be a process, and I've always believed that you're going to have to go into the lane of policy and lobby specifically for abortion access and rights in actual change. It's just so difficult because it is a systemic issue. With my group Champions for Health Equity,  I love facilitating things around this matter, from conversations with my colleagues to webinars. Unfortunately, at the same time, I don't think it's enough for any systemic change to occur within our hospital or in general. 

Erica: Have there been offerings equipped for these conversations within NSRH?

Estephanie: Yes! THE SYSTEM ISN’T BROKEN AT the RJ Series Member Event in November with Zena. It’s working how it’s supposed to. I have bought her book (The Care We Deserve) and am already halfway through it. I have even reached out to Zena, and as I know, she has a background in research (the field I am currently in). I’ve been a fan since that event. It was just what I needed.

Erica: Our value for this month is to Celebrate. How do you take time to center pleasure and celebrate?

Estephanie:  I will take a day to myself. I like singing and dancing or treating myself to my favorite meal.


Team Member Spotlight: Lily's Time with NSRH


I joined NSRH in the early Spring of 2020, right as the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning to take hold, excited about the opportunity to contribute to a small but mighty team of folks who shared my passions for reproductive health, rights, and justice. I thought I’d work throughout the summer and leave NSRH when I began my Master of Public Health program at Boston University that fall. Now, nearly two years later, I have finished my Master’s degree and I am saying farewell to NSRH as I begin my next journey. 

I’ve been honored to be part of the NSRH network and to have seen all the ways our community has grown together. Since I joined, we’ve fully launched our Membership Program, grown the Online Institute, began our inaugural cohort of Karen Edlund Fellows, and revamped and relaunched our Training in Abortion Care Residency. I am so proud of all we have accomplished and can’t wait to see what’s in store for NSRH in the future. I am confident you all will continue to do innovative, important work that centers the needs of our community and prioritizes equity and justice. 

It’s been such a pleasure and a privilege to work with our community of disruptive nurses. I have loved interacting with all of you, uplifting your voices on social media, and learning from the incredible work you do every day to make compassionate, comprehensive SRH care accessible for your communities.

It’s bittersweet for me to leave NSRH; I have enjoyed my time here and have learned so much from each and every one of you. The passion for reproductive rights, health, and justice that brought me to NSRH in the first place has grown exponentially stronger since I joined the team in 2020. Though I am sad to leave, I am excited about what’s to come. I won't be straying too far from NSRH’s mission in this next stage of my SRH journey - I’ll be joining a program working to increase equitable access to contraception through, among other things, provider education. I hope to cross paths with many of you in this role and anywhere else my career takes me. It would bring me so much joy to be in community with you again one day in the future.

With love and gratitude for all that you do,

Lily Acton

Get to know Our Fellows Series: Leslie Chase (Pt. II)

Part II of our Fellow Series with Leslie Chase brings our focus to her work, some specifics on her project, and be sure to look out on the NSRH Social Hub App (on google play and the App Store) for ways to support her fundraiser to assist with supporting the necessary work Leslie discusses below.

NSRH: How did you recognize the need for this service, and how did you center those most impacted in the development of this project? 

Leslie Chase: Through my work with Planned Parenthood, we initiated gender-affirming hormone therapy at our affiliate. With that came the search for many different resources in all of our regions for that population of patients that we were starting to serve. I was involved in that search. In that search, we created a relationship with the Transgender Health and Wellness Center, and actually, my work with them pointed out this specific need. A lot of their clients were sex workers who needed services. So that's how I identified this specific population. I think my work in my master's program when I was working on SRH and looking into that worldwide. It's just something that kept coming up. This need existed. 

NSRH: What are some of the biggest misconceptions you hear within the nursing and health profession related to people who engage in sex work/bodywork? 

Leslie Chase: Unfortunately, I see a lot of evidence of stigma in general, especially around sex. there's a lot of assumption that people who engage in sex work or bodywork are irresponsible or don't care about their own health, or they somehow deserve any adverse health outcomes because of the "risk associated with their work." There's a lot of that kind of language, and that somehow it's our place as nurses or providers to judge them instead of caring for them. It's pretty heavily laden with stigma. I see that a lot, especially from other students who maybe have only worked in primary health care settings or urgent care settings. Another assumption is assuming that every sex worker does not want to be in sex work. Like in any other job, some find it to be empowering, or they see it as their job, or some don't want to be in it. I think that it's essential not to assume that every person who engages in sex work does or does not want to be in sex work.

Another thing is it's important to reinforce to some of my colleagues that sex work is work, full stop. I think people forget that. Just like any other patient, they're deserving of our non-judgemental care and respect, and it's our job to deconstruct our stigma around it. 

 NSRH: What frameworks or education models do you think would be helpful in classrooms for people becoming health professionals who may work with patients engaging in sex work?

Leslie Chase: I think harm reduction is beneficial. Substance use disorder and sex work often overlap, so I think that's an excellent way to frame it. I believe that the harm reduction model applies to how we approach youths to engage in what we've labeled as "risky behaviors." I also try to view all my work through a health equity framework. That's been helpful in just removing yourself from any personal or moral judgment or attachment, and doing it through health equity or reproductive justice framework is powerful as well. 

NSRH: What are the most significant barriers to care you see through your work with sex workers? Has the pandemic illuminated this?

 Leslie Chase: In our initial survey, many folks mentioned that they need help getting connected to services in mental health specifically. Even if they can get connected to a therapist or someone similar, a lot of that service still comes to judgment and stigma. I think a huge barrier to them is accessing non-judgmental services. There's a specific request for, "how can I get services from providers who have had experience with sex workers, who are sex workers themselves, or did do sex work previously?" So that they can not only relate better to specific challenges or experiences of sex workers but also ensure that they were not getting care. A considerable barrier is not knowing if it's safe to divulge your activity in sex work to whatever provider you're going to get care of. It's a huge barrier. 

Through the pandemic, there's a lot of language about irresponsible people, not wearing masks, not social distancing, and things like that. This population is being forgotten. We're calling other professions that have had to continue to work through the pandemic heroes but giving very little understanding to people who do sex work and have to continue to live through the pandemic. They have no other choice. The population is being disproportionately judged, stigmatized, and left behind because of the stigma around sex and sex work during the pandemic. 

* Leslie's virtual fundraiser to build and issue out these essential care kits is set for 11/13/2021! More details to come on how to support this amazing project!

1:1 with UPenn Chapter Student Leader Tara Tiepel


October Student Leader Spotlight: Tara Teipel

Our Student Engagement Coordinator, Rosie Laine, recently sat down with one of our NSRH Student Chapter Presidents, Tara Teipel. Tara (she/her) is a third-year undergraduate student pursuing a BSN at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Nursing. U Penn’s student chapter has over 100 members, and they continue to be leaders in SRH student activism. Tara sat down with us to discuss her experiences as a nursing student and chapter president. 

Tell us about what brought you to nursing, and more specifically to your interest in sexual and reproductive healthcare and advocacy? 

I always knew I wanted to do something in the sciences. My mom, dad, and both of my older sisters do something in the sciences. They mainly focus on engineering, but when I found out about all the different roles that nurses get to do, I realized that was the perfect balance of learning all about the human body but still working face to face with people and having that close and immediate change. Since then, everything I’ve learned about nursing has made me love it even more. I got into sexual and reproductive health because, at my school, we teach a lot of sex ed through a program called Teen Prevention Education Program or Teen PEP. As a junior, I was selected to teach a special health class to become an expert in safe sex, healthy relationships, gender identity, and leadership. Once a month, we would go into freshman health classes. We would do skits and write songs, and it was supposed to be a way to make the freshman pay attention more than they would if they were reading it out of a textbook or hearing it from their health teacher. That made me realize how many questions there were and how there wasn’t a lot of education. These issues are often pushed aside for later on. When I came to Penn, on the first day of orientation, they had the NSRH Chapter table, and through that, I’ve learned more about SRH. And I’ve learned more about it through my classes. Through those experiences, I’m pretty sure that's what I want to do. 

What brought you to your involvement with NSRH? 

I realized that coming onto campus, the whole world of nursing was wide open, and I felt comfortable talking about SRH issues after my experience with Teen PEP.  I realized not many people had that same sense of comfort, so I decided to join the club after seeing it at the student organization fair. I decided to take on a leadership role because I felt that I wanted to be more involved in decision-making and be more hands-on with the projects that they were doing, and the meetings and events that they were holding. Our previous chapter president (who is now an NSRH National executive board member), along with the whole student chapter board, graduated, so I became president after that. Before I joined it was very focused on accelerated nursing students who had only been at Penn for about two years, so they had even higher turnover than a typical college club. Now we have a whole new board and a new advisor, so it’s been a big transitional year. 

Tell us about what it’s like to lead a student chapter? What advice would you give to students interested in starting or joining an NSRH student chapter? 

It’s definitely a lot of time management because you also have classes. It’s a lot of scheduling times and creating boundaries between schoolwork and organizing. A lot of people at my school are involved in multiple organizations. Also, it’s important to have time to relax, so it’s important to have those boundaries for yourself and respect other people. When I first became the only returning board member, I felt like I had to do everything. We ended up making new positions for the board and delegating tasks. Before, I would try to do everything and then ask the rest of the board, “let me know if anyone can do this?” But when we made roles for the board members, everyone was so happy to do their part. I think delegating is hard for some people to let go of control, but then everyone has more time to do the things they're the best at, and you’ll see more progress. I learned a lot, and since then, it’s been way easier to manage. 

What sustains your work and activism? What drives you to continue showing up?

Creating communities within the academic organization helps to prevent burnout. Instead of having all of our meetings focused on speakers, and learning workshops, and so on (although those are all super interesting and teach us lessons we may not have gotten out of school), we take the beginning part of the meeting to go around and check in with everyone and learn everyone’s names. It’s a great way to 1) get to know other people who are interested in the same things that you are, and 2) to keep you engaged in a way that isn’t just strictly education-based. 

What are some of the events or speakers that you’ve been most excited about or most proud of? How did you approach student organizing during the pandemic?

Because of the pandemic, we’ve been limited to virtual organizing and events, but we organized one really cool event in collaboration with multiple organizations in the nursing school. There's a film called Belly of the Beast, which is about forced sterilizations with women in prison. I think it’s hard to make virtual events engaging. Movies and documentaries are a great asset, but then people are on zoom for three-plus hours. So we gave an access code that everyone could use to watch the documentary on their own time. Which, for me, felt like an interesting break from my study time. I got to watch an interesting movie about a topic that I didn’t know much on. Then for our actual event, we had a few speakers on Zoom. We probably wouldn't have been able to get them in person. So that event was flexible but still synchronous. 

Are there events or speakers you have in mind, or general advocacy goals, you have for the upcoming year?

Yes. I definitely want to make the Papaya Aspiration Workshop happen because I haven’t gotten to participate in that kind of event yet. I think it’s a great hands-on experience. Also, at Penn, there’s a minor called Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies. It’s through the college, not the nursing school, but after talking to the head of the department, she said she’d seen a huge surge of nursing students looking to get this minor. So we’re going to bring her in and do event detailing and provide class recommendations not limited to the nursing school that would allow nursing students to explore sexuality, queer theory, and gender. So I’m excited about that. 

Do you have tips or thoughts for students interested in starting a chapter, but it’s not yet established, so they need to focus on recruitment? Do you have advice on how to recruit new students?

When I joined as a freshman, the club was pretty well established. Still, because our core cohort of accelerated nursing students graduated and with covid, we now have a whole new group of student participants and leaders. I just finished my sophomore year, and half our board includes first-year students. I had taken my maternity class this past semester, and I reached out to our professor, who is also the head of the Center for Global Women’s Health. She’s super involved and taught the maternity class in an LGBTQ+ friendly lens, which is very new, especially in a field where it’s very gender-biased. She was a huge asset not just in knowledge and collaborating with the Center for Global Women’s Health, but also because she offered extra credit for students to come and attend our events. Afterward, we would send an email to them, asking them to join our newsletter.  That all really helped, because every student has her eventually, and her classes are so related to the topics we cover. She’s been a great asset. I would say if students are starting a new club, they should reach out to a professor who agrees with a lot of the content. That’s a great method to get new students involved. 

Can you share the best ways to select a faculty advisor?

Similar content to the classes is ideal. A lot of our events coincided with what we were learning in classes. That helped students and made it easy for our faculty advisor to plug our events in class. Besides that, reachability is very important, especially when you’re starting a new club. I knew we needed a very hands-on faculty advisor that would be able to attend a lot of our board meetings and respond to our emails. So that’s been super helpful. Maybe a more established club could have a more laissez-faire advisor, but we needed all the help we could get. Also, we’re so lucky that our faculty advisor has so many connections in the field. She knows speakers at other universities that have come in via zoom. That’s one of the pros of Zoom; you’re able to meet with so many different people that may not have been able to come in person. Those connections helped us a lot. 

Our value this month is Integrity. How do you think about integrity in relation to nursing, specifically within sexual and reproductive healthcare? 

All healthcare has sensitive information, and it’s essential to keep patients’ privacy and be there for them. I think within sexual and reproductive health, it’s especially that way. Many patients may come to you with huge insecurities or big secrets that even their friends and family may not know about them. Nursing is known as the world’s most trusted profession, so I think it’s important to uphold that and to keep your patients’ priorities as high as your own. 


What is your favorite fall activity? 

This is so niche, but I like cooking pumpkin seeds. I love carving the pumpkin and cooking the seeds. That’s what makes me think of fall. 

What is your favorite school supply for back-to-school shopping? 

I think I need colored pens. I just think they logistically help make notes stand out, but they’re also just fun. 

Interested in joining NSRH National as a free student member? Apply today! Interested in starting an NSRH Student Chapter on your campus? Contact [email protected] for support and more information. 

What We Need to Remember this National Hispanic Nurses Day


What We Need to Remember this National Hispanic Nurses Day

Author: Melina Lopez*

There’s no better time to think about what being a bisexual Mexican and Puerto Rican nurse means to me than when Bisexuality Awareness Week, Latinx Heritage Month and National Hispanic Nurses day happen at the same time. It’s hard, though, because I can never reflect on these identities as mutually exclusive. It’s even harder when I think about how within the greater scope in which these identities exist (i.e. bisexuality in the LGBTQ community, heritage in the Latinx community, and nurses in the healthcare field), each of these identities have long, deeply rooted histories of erasure and subjugation. 

For bisexuality, it’s the tendency to question the legitimacy of the sexual orientation and consider it less valid than being gay or lesbian. For heritage, it’s the phenotypical hierarchies of power that values lighter-skinned over darker-skinned Latinx people in sociopolitical contexts. For nurses, specifically Latinx nurses, it’s the use of gender as a rationalization to subject nurses to the male-dominated field that is medicine. 

I don’t have the privilege, or rather the ability, to separate these histories from one another since separating these realities would mean erasing their marginalized truth. In thinking about these identities, I’d like to specifically hone in on the role of U.S. imperialism in the history of professional nursing in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico, formerly a colony of Spain, became and still remains a colony of the U.S. under American Protestant missionaries seeking to bring salvation and civilization to Puerto Rico in the early 20th century by introducing hospitals and nursing schools to the island. These nursing schools adopted racist admission policies that excluded Afro-Puerto Rican women by arguing that allowing women of color into the nursing program was not in the best interest of the hospital, nor to the women. White nursing advocates for these ‘whites-only’ admission policies reveal an interesting acknowledgment, compliance, and continuation of women of color’s marginalization in nursing because they claim that Afro-Puerto Rican admission into these schools would not only undo all of the work to advance white women’s political power as nurses, their admission would be unfair to them because they would still be considered socially and professionally inferior to white nurses based on the island’s classification of race, which is a fluid hierarchy based on phenotypical registers of Blackness where money and education have the power to essentially ‘whiten’ Puerto Ricans and grant them higher social status. 

These imperial and local ideologies of race, in conjunction with the belief that Afro-Puerto Rican’s presence in nursing would weaken the white nurses’ political power in health, suggest that gender and social class superseded race when it came to the professionalization of Puerto Rican nursing. It’s important that we acknowledge these intersections this National Hispanic Nurses Day to show that while yes, Latinx nurses have made incredible strides in the advancement of nursing and deserve to be celebrated, we cannot deny how the execution of Nightingale nursing was done at the expense of Latinx, specifically Afro-Latinx, women. 

So, as we celebrate Bisexuality awareness week, Latinx heritage month, and National Hispanic Nurses Day, I urge you to pay special attention to the role American nurses have played in establishing the state of nursing in Latin America. I also caution us from celebrating the myth of homogenized, universal “Latinidad” this Latinx heritage month. Rather, let us all look at the US role as facilitators of these countries’ socialization into American norms and practices through the nursing field. 

Ellen Walsh, “’ Called to Nurse’: Nursing Race, and Americanization in Early 20th Century Puerto Rico, Nursing History Review 26 (2018): 138-171. 



* Melina Lopez is an inaugural NSRH Karen Edlund Fellow, providing insights to the NSRH Community for Bisexual Awareness Week (September 16-23) and Latinx Heritage Month (September 15- October 15)

Get To Know Our Fellows Series: Leslie Chase

This week NSRH’s student engagement coordinator, Rosie Laine, spoke with Leslie about what brought her to nursing and SRH specifically, and about our monthly value (Power) 

Stay tuned to learn about the amazing work Leslie is doing to support sex and bodyworkers through her Nurse Leader Project in Karen Edlund Fellowship 

NSRH: Tell us a little bit about your SRH journey? What led you to study nursing and how did you become interested in the intersection of nursing and SRH?

Leslie Chase: I always knew that I wanted to be in the medical field from a really young age. I think what really led me to sexual and reproductive health is I graduated college the month after the 2016 election, with my first undergraduate degree. I had always been comfortable talking about sex and answering my friends’ questions, giving them someone to talk to about topics t they were embarrassed about, or they felt a lot of unease about. Right after the 2016 election, I became really motivated to work in something that made a difference. I ended up applying to Planned Parenthood, and I knew that’s exactly where I wanted to be. I’ve been working with Planned Parenthood since I graduated with my undergraduate degree, and it’s done nothing but bolster my interest in SRH. There are so many avenues within it, and you can see really concretely where you’re making a difference in people’s lives. It just felt like a very natural progression of things. 

NSRH: You mentioned that you were interested in nursing, or the medical field, from a pretty young age. What led you to think about this health education degree as something to supplement? 

Leslie Chase: I think really it’s my work with Planned Parenthood. I think often people think of nurses as individual contributors. What I really liked about my exposure to Planned Parenthood is that because of my work on the administrative side, I got to see how organizations like that enact change on a high level, and the impact that you can have to change an entire health landscape with the community. I really liked that idea. I liked my master’s program in health education because it helps you learn how to take your knowledge of being an individual contributor, to assessing the needs of an entire population, or community, or region. I learned how to build projects and programs that have a high impact and impact a lot of people. I liked that perspective of service. 

NSRH: To play on the NSRH Value of the Month - Power - if you had a superpower, what would it be and why?

Leslie Chase: I think teleportation. I love to travel, and I love the experience without all the cost, waiting around, and the carbon emissions. So I think teleportation.