Medical Education Could Help Solve Disparities in LGBTQ+ Healthcare
Despite progress, many people in the LGBTQ+ community continue to face discrimination in all facets of their lives, including healthcare. A survey by the Center for American Progress found that more than 1 in 3 LGBTQ+ Americans faced discrimination of some kind last year. In addition, about 25% of LGBTQ+ people who were discriminated against in the past year said they either delayed or skipped necessary medical care due to concerns about further harm. This discrimination has a negative impact on the physical and mental health of LGBTQ+ people — and this is particularly true for transgender people. They report being misgendered by their healthcare professional, having care refused to them for their gender identity, receiving care from a provider who was visibly uncomfortable, and having to educate their provider about transgender people so they could receive proper treatment. Improved education and training of healthcare professionals on LGBTQ+-related health topics can help to reduce discrimination and boost the health of the community, research shows.
Medical educators at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) created the Sexual and Gender Minority Curriculum Assessment Tool (SGM-CAT) in an effort to determine where there are strengths and gaps in LGBTQ+ health topics in the curriculum. The researchers distilled 30 sexual and gender minority competencies from the Association of American Medical Colleges into 12 easy-to-understand topic areas. SGM-CAT is used to assess whether these topics are addressed in the curriculum and, if so, how and where they are addressed. Dr. Ann Zumwalt, associate professor in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at Boston University School of Medicine, notes the "easy-to-understand tool … is really easy to modify to any curriculum, so we think it’s really good for other schools, because, regardless of what the curriculum is, you can get a really quick sense of where topics are being taught and where they’re not." Experts also stress that LGBTQ+ must continue past medical school. Dr. Dustin Nowaskie, founder and president of OutCare Health, a national LGBTQ+ healthcare nonprofit, says that "you have to start foundational, but then you have to give that ongoing training, because cultural competency is not a static entity."
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