2019-20 NC Albert Schweitzer Fellows Noa Nessim and Margo Faulk receive advocacy awards for starting the Gender Affirming Care Clinic at UNC’s Student Health Action Coalition (SHAC, the nation’s first student-run free clinic). They have recently graduated from UNC School of Medicine.
May 29, 2020. This content is from UNC’s LGBTQ Center. To read the full story and see all award recipients, click here.
This year’s Graduate/Professional Awardees are Noa Nessim, MD, and Margo Faulk, MD. These two recent
medical school graduates were jointly nominated by four of their peers, who wrote:
Nessim and Faulk, through the funding of a Schweitzer grant, started the Gender Affirming Care Clinic at UNC’s Student Health Action Coalition (SHAC, the nation’s first student-run free clinic).
Margo Faulk, MD, (pictured left) and Noa Nessim, MD
Through this clinic, Nessim, Faulk, and their supervising providers offer free, gender affirming care, including prescriptions for hormone therapy, primary care, and access to other hormone therapy, primary care, and access to other outside resources. These two medical students have gone above and beyond the expectations of fourth year medical students, putting hundreds of hours into starting and operating this clinic and ensuring its continuation once they graduate and begin residency.
In addition to running the clinic, Faulk and Nessim created a specialized training program for all SHAC volunteers and staff to ensure a safe and welcoming environment for all trans people who come to the clinic to receive care. In particular, it focuses on the challenges faced by trans-identifying individuals within the health care system. Their work toward realizing a vision of incorporating this training into the curriculums of UNC health profession schools — making it mandatory for all graduating students — holds the potential to yield sustained benefits in providing medical care for LGBTQIA+ patients.
Nessim and Faulk have enhanced visibility and awareness of LGBTQIA+ issues by identifying a need in the community and doing everything in their power to fill it. They saw a lack of free, safe medical care for trans people in the Chapel Hill community, highlighted the gap, and used their medical knowledge and academic resources to make a change. By creating an extensive network of LGBTQIA+ folks in the triangle and beyond, they have been able to reach a wide community and provide services that may otherwise be inaccessible.
Nessim and Faulk have made every effort for their clinic to operate within an inclusive environment. They offer all of their documentation and services in both English and Spanish. They have also begun to apply for grants in an effort to provide transportation assistance for community members unable to find rides to clinic appointments. Additionally, they are working to find funds that would allow the clinic to provide free hormone therapy for patients in their clinic who cannot afford it. Faulk and Nessim are constantly looking for ways to make their care more accessible, seeking out potential barriers in order to break them down.
Overall, Faulk and Nessim’s work has provided a resource for the LGBTQIA+ community in Chapel Hill that was previously unmet. They have identified the need for quality, kind care for the trans community, and then masterfully filled that need. This clinic will not only continue to provide care for years to come, but will also allow the opportunity for current and future medical students to learn to provide excellent healthcare to trans patients.
Nessim will conduct residency training in Family Medicine at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, NY. Faulk will conduct residency training in Family Medicine at UNC.