Medical Schools Neglect Gay and Gender Issues
…While we had been trained well in treating cancer with the best chemotherapy regimen, curing flesh-eating infections with the most powerful antibiotics or transplanting organs with the greatest of ease, when it came to caring for patients who were transgender, we were lost. For many of us, the same could be said for lesbian, gay and bisexual patients as well. The only thing most of us knew how to do was ask about a single issue: “Whom are you having sex with? Men, women or both?”
Researchers from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Medical Education Research Group at Stanford University School of Medicine surveyed medical school deans in the United States and Canada and asked about the curriculum devoted to topics like gender identity, coming out as gay and disparities in health care access for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender patients. While nearly all the students were learning to ask patients about the gender of their sexual partners, a majority of medical schools devoted only five hours to teaching anything more than that simple question. Fully one-third of schools allotted no time at all.
“These results should serve as a call to action for the health profession to include L.G.B.T. health as part of the standard curriculum,” said Dr. Desiray Bailey, an anesthesiologist and president of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association.
“This is about being a good doctor, because a trusting relationship is not just about a patient’s physical or even mental well-being,” Dr. Lunn said. “It’s about learning who that patient is.”