In 2007, four students at Stanford medical school founded the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Medical Education Research Group with plans of working toward bolstering LGBT curricula in medical schools. They approached one of the deans at Stanford who showed some interest but wanted to first know what exactly was being taught elsewhere.
“We found that that information was really hard to find because it didn’t exist,” said Mitchell Lunn, MD, an internal medicine resident at Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School who was a medical student at Stanford at the time. “It just wasn’t known what exactly was being taught in medical schools, so we decided to do some research and find out.”
Four years later, results of that research are being published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Based on data from a survey sent to deans of all the medical schools in the United States and Canada, Lunn and his colleagues show that the average medical student spends just five hours in medical school learning about the health-care needs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community.
And this is despite evidence that LGBT patients often face a unique set of health risks, which as I explain in a release, include increased risk factors for breast cancer among lesbians, higher rates of depression and anxiety due to homophobic discrimination, and increased rates of hepatitis among gay men.
The authors’ next step, they told me, is to take this information and move forward with their original hope of bolstering LGBT curriculum in medical school:
“This is really about visibility and partnering with other organizations to get a better sense of how we can train a next generation of providers to be really sensitive and competent in meeting the needs of the LGBT community,” said first author Juno Obedin-Maliver, MD, a Stanford graduate now doing an ob/gyn residency at the University of California-San Francisco. “These issues are something that every health-care provider will encounter.”