Posts Tagged ‘lgbt’

The Hidden Bias

Friday, April 27th, 2012

When Mark Schuster was a medical student, he served on the admissions committee. He recalls interviewing a particularly well qualified candidate and rating him with perfect scores. After the interview, he was surprised to compare notes with a faculty member who had given the applicant very low marks. Curious what flaw he had missed, Schuster listened as the interviewer explained he just didn’t feel “comfortable” with the applicant.

Stellar as he was, the student was also an effeminate man. Schuster recalls this incident and others that occurred on his way to becoming chief of general pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Boston. Since his training, medical schools have become more visible in their support for LGBT students and diversity. At the same time, decisions still get made in small committee meetings far from public view. Training in unconscious bias may help search committees and admissions deans become more aware of submerged prejudices that have overt consequences.

LGBT Health

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

In a survey of medical school curricula, researchers found that the average medical student receives only five hours of instruction on the health of gay, lesbian, and transgendered patients. Nine schools devoted no time to the topic during the preclinical years.

Doug Hughes, Assistant Dean of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs and Professor of Psychiatry at BU, served as a panelist at the AAMC meeting in Denver. He reported that BU students receive 10 hours of LGBT health instruction, twice the national average.

A reporter from U.S. News interviewed Doug, who reported on the strides that BU and other medical schools have made in welcoming LGBT students. The visible presence of supportive faculty is particularly important, he said.

Diversifying Leadership

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Openly gay men and women now lead institutions of higher education as diverse as Hampshire College, Roosevelt University, and the University of Maine at Farmington. There are now enough LGBT college presidents (about two dozen), that the leaders held their own summit this year.

Michael Roggow has been interviewing gay and lesbian university presidents over the last two years and has come up with tips for both LGBT candidates for top positions and for search committees looking to signal inclusiveness.

For LGBT academics interested in leadership positions:

  • Let the search committee or search consultant know your sexual orientation, but focus on your accomplishments.
  • Find out as much as possible about the institution to determine if it’s a good fit.
  • Develop a network of supportive friends.

For search committees interested in diversity:

  • Include welcoming language in the job description
  • Invite finalists to bring their partners to the interview
  • Value a candidate’s accomplishments, not just personal characteristics.

These suggestions apply equally well to recruiting at the faculty level.

Transgender Patients

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

This July Erin Vaught went to the Ball Memorial Hospital emergency room in Muncie, Indiana coughing up blood. Instead of treating her condition, the medical staff ridiculed her and taunted her because Erin is transgender.

As a result of the incident and subsequent publicity, Ball Memorial Hospital is now making lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender sensitivity training mandatory for its employees. The restitution also included the hospital president apologizing to Vaught.

Ball Memorial Hospital’s response serves as a a model for other medical institutions. The hospital admitted wrongdoing, worked with community organizations to design a curriculum, and required training for all staff.

Of course, it’s better to avoid such offensive incidents in the first place. And LGBT patients are not the only ones with particular needs. The incident shows that at Boston Medical Center, where our mission is to provide “exceptional care without exception,” ongoing sensitivity training is still useful to put the slogan into action.