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Study shows LGBT students underrepresented in med schools

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(CNN) Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender communities are being vastly underrepresented in both the curricula and student and faculty populations of medical schools across North America. As a result, many doctors aren’t properly trained to treat the unique challenges presented by gay and transgendered patients.  According to a study conducted by the Stanford University School of Medicine, and published two months ago in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the median time spent on queer topics in medical schools is just five hours. This means that of the approximately 150 institutions that responded to the survey, 44 admitted to spending no time whatsoever on LGBT-related subjects while 70 per cent rated their coverage between ‘fair’ and ‘very poor’.  The overlooking of queer issues in health education compounded with societal barriers such as social stigma and same-sex marriage laws, which can prevent gay couples from receiving health insurance for their partners in some states, translates to a stark inequality in the American and Canadian medical establishments. A disproportionately low number of LGBT students and staff members in the schools surveyed reflects the lack of class time spent on queer issues and suggests that a more inclusive environment on campus would go a long way towards a less neglectful curriculum.

1.

American Medical Students Association stands up for equality and diversity

AMSA

The American Medical Students Association is an organization that represents people studying to be physicians in the United States. A team of staff independently runs the association and their current national president is Danielle Salovich. AMSA is dedicated to achieving student ideals through activism and their goals include “global health equity” and “enriching medicine through diversity” among others. One way they are implementing these values is through their Gender and Sexuality committee.  On their website there is a section devoted to the special interest group that contains information regarding sexual health and gender identity awareness events as well as programs designed to integrate well-rounded sex education into the classroom. The page also aggregates related news and information, and they certainly did not overlook the JAMA study that revealed the absence of queer issues in the curricula of North American medical schools.

2.

GLBT Medical Students of Canada is on a mission for acceptance

GLBT Meds Canada

One look at the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Medical Students of Canada’s mission statement will be enough to convince readers there is still a long way to go before the goal of true diversity is achieved. The statement highlights the discriminatory societal constructs that stem back to historical oppression and continue to perpetuate homophobia to this day. In addition to articulating the injustices that pervade our culture, it outlines ways medical education could become more welcoming to issues. This national professional organization seeks to advocate for all LGBT medical students and doctors in Canada. It represents over 250 LGBT students and works to promote the estimated 800 LGBT physicians nationwide. The website fosters a support network that extends throughout the medical world and beyond by linking to resources, events and websites of other similar groups. 

3.

Gay and Lesbian Medical Association sheds light on ignorance

GLMA

The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association was founded in 1981 to shed light on the prevailing ignorance concerning the specific healthcare needs of individuals within the LGBT demographic. Today the association continues to voice the concerns of millions of LGBT patients and its members include approximately 1,000 physicians, students, nurses and other healthcare professionals. This organization understands that while many institutions do address topics such as HIV, the conversation needs to become more multifaceted. Gender identity, sexually transmitted diseases, and mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression all manifest with higher prevalence in queer communities as compared to the general population.

4.

Yale makes moves to recruit LGBT applicants

Yale

Yale has emerged as a leading university in its attempt to recruit LGBT students to its medical department. The university recently released an admissions brochure specifically targeting LGBT hopefuls. This comes as a response to the low numbers of queer students studying medicine across America in addition to the fact that many LGBT candidates choose schools in major metropolitan areas instead of Ivy League institutes in small towns. The Yale School of Medicine Gay Straight Alliance was formed in 2004 and functions under its current name since 2007. Its goal is to organize, defend and serve gay, lesbian and transgender students in an effort to improve quality of life at Yale medical school.

5.

Frontiers LA picks up on the JAMA study

Fronters LA

Frontiers LA is a gay lifestyle publication based out of Southern California. They picked up on the story from an article originally posted on Slate.com. Slate reported that, “the LGBT population is also plagued by disproportional rates of depression, substance abuse, addiction and smoking. Multiple studies over the past ten years have found that LGBT youth are up to 5 times more likely than their heterosexual counterparts to be homeless and 2-5 times more likely to commit or attempt suicide.“

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