BU med students not interested in new LGBT concentration

Two medical students at Brown University (BU) have taken matters into their own hands by creating a concentration in LGBT healthcare. However, no students signed up this semester.

“The medical system really isn’t designed for people who are not your typical heterosexual, cisgender patient,” Morgan Cheatham, a Liberal Medical Education student at BU who helped build the program with faculty, told The Brown Daily Herald.

While not required, this program, limited to two to four medical students per year, hopes to help participants “demonstrate their mastery of and sensitivity to, the social, political, and cultural context of health issues facing the diverse LGBTQ community through research, service, and advocacy,” as well as to help students “recognize the physician's role in protecting and advocating for gender and sexual justice.”

Cheatham said the idea for this concentration came from a course she took that revealed the lack of diversity training in medicine. She also cites a 2011 Stanford University study revealing that most medical school students spend only a few hours learning about the needs of LGBTQ patients.

The director of the concentration, Michelle Forcier, told Campus Reform that a 2002 Kaiser national survey revealed that six percent of physicians reported some discomfort caring for LGBT patients.

“As with the general population, some clinicians may continue to struggle with openness and inclusion in their practice of medicine,” Forcier said.

Topics included in the concentration are gender and sexual development, social stigma, hormonal transition, gender dysphoria, and minority stress.

“Minority populations typically have higher rates of depression, anxiety and smoking not because they themselves are more prone but because of all the pressures society places on them,” Noah Lupica, who also helped build the program, told to the Daily Herald.

Lupica and Cheatham originally hoped that this new concentration would become part of BU’s general curriculum, but they said the medical school is already too full with content to add more. Additionally, there was a lack of interest from students for the new concentration as no one signed up.

Forcier isn’t fazed by the setback and says it may just take some time for students to learn more about these opportunities and to take advantage of them.

“[W]e will continue to work with our excellent student body to promote an educational environment that ensures quality medical education and attention to social justice for the LGBTQI community throughout their medical education,” Forcier said.

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