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LGBT, Medical Education, Medical Schools, Research, Stanford News

Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered health issues not being taught in medical school

Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered health issues not being taught in medical school

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.”

Related: Advances being made for LGBT medical students

Cancer, LGBT, Research

How sexual orientation affects cancer survivorship

One of my current projects is an upcoming Stanford Medicine article on cancer survivorship. (Given a recent report showing there are more than 12 million former patients in the United States, I thought it was a timely topic.) I took notice, then, of a new study in the journal Cancer describing the differences between straight and gay cancer survivors. Among them: Lesbian and bisexual survivors are more than twice as likely to report fair or poor health after cancer than are heterosexual ones. has a nice write-up here.

LGBT, Videos

Apple employees tell bullied teens “it gets better”

I’m a couple of days late to this, but earlier this week Apple, Inc. employees shared a message for the It Gets Better Project. I thought their message was so touching and so perfectly stated that I’m sharing it here.

Previously: Tim Gunn speaks to depressed LGBT youth in ‘It Gets Better’ video

LGBT, Medical Education, Medical Schools

Advances being made for LGBT medical students

The most recent issue of the AAMC Reporter has an interesting article on the treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) medical students, physicians and patients. Included is a discussion of the historical challenges facing gay medical students – such as “underprepared faculty and staff, negative comments in and out of the classroom, and limited LGBT content in the curriculum” – and steps that schools are taking to aid these students and respond to any incidents:

…Some medical schools have changed their reporting systems to make them safer. Drexel allows a student to anonymously submit a complaint and be quickly transferred, if necessary, to a new clinical training site. Offending clinicians can receive sensitivity training and education or, in extreme cases, be banned from working with students. Stanford provides students with the option to delay faculty notification, in case they feel more comfortable waiting until after evaluations are complete.

Medical schools also are working to better support LGBT students. At UCSF, an “out list” publicly lists openly LGBT students and faculty to help facilitate collegiality and networking. Open LGBT faculty members “send the message that they can advance academically and rise to high-ranking positions at an academic institution,” [Samuel Parrish, MD, associate dean for student affairs and admissions at Drexel University College of Medicine] said.

The most heartening part of the article? The fact that experts say things are better now than they were just five or ten years ago. Commented Jonathan Appelbaum, MD, director of internal medicine education at Florida State University College of Medicine: “Many medical students don’t even see it as much of an issue because a diverse learning environment seems only natural to them.”

Via @AAMCToday

Health Disparities, In the News, LGBT, Stanford News

Same-sex marriage: What the doctors ordered

Same-sex marriage is one of the most hotly debated topics to date. Often a matter left for legislators and religious groups to mull over, a number of physicians and prestigious medical organizations such as the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, have also weighed in on the issue.

In an opinion piece published in today’s Inside Stanford Medicine, Stanford physician Gabriel Garcia, MD, is calling on all health-profession schools to make a commitment to support marriage equality. And he describes how permitting same-sex marriage could help eliminate health disparities that exist among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender populations:

Married people live longer: As young adults, married men may have mortality rates two-and-a-half times lower than single men. Married people lead healthier lives: They have lower levels of depression, substance abuse and suicide. They earn more money and have greater rates of promotion and productivity at work. They do not have to explain their relationship to others. They do not suffer discrimination in employer benefits such as health insurance or retirement plans. Their children are healthier and better adjusted.

The piece also ran in Friday’s issue of the San Jose Mercury News.

LGBT, Mental Health, Videos

Tim Gunn speaks to depressed LGBT youth in ‘It Gets Better’ video

Tim Gunn speaks to depressed LGBT youth in 'It Gets Better' video

Project Runway mentor Tim Gunn released a heartfelt message today to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth encouraging them to seek help if they are depressed or having thoughts about committing suicide.

In the above video, Gunn shockingly reveals he attempted suicide at age 17, pleads with teens to talk to someone if they are in despair and advocates The Trevor Project, a national crisis and suicide prevention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth. He says:

There are people who can help you. You cannot do this alone, that is another profound message that I want to give to all of you. It really requires a collaboration between you and the people who love you-the people who you can depend upon, no matter who they are, as mentors. In my case, it took a very serious intervention to help me. And, it was a result of the botched suicide attempt to be blunt.

The public service announcement was filmed as part of the It Gets Better Project campaign.

Via Huffington Post


They’re a family

Lambda Legal, the gay rights organization, has filed a federal lawsuit that could challenge policies at hospitals nationwide.

The suit against Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami was brought on behalf of Janice Langbehn and her three children, who were not permitted to visit their mother – Langbehn’s same-sex partner, Lisa Pond – after she collapsed during a Florida vacation. That’s in spite of the couple’s living trusts, advanced health-care directives and power-of-attorney documents. Pond died eight hours after being admitted to the trauma center with an aneurysm.

“We want to send a message to hospitals,” said Lambda Legal lawyer Beth Littrell. “If they don’t treat families as such, if they don’t let patients define their own circle of intimacy and give them the dignity and care to be with their loved ones in this sort of crisis, then they will be held accountable.”

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