Background: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) individuals face considerable health disparities, often due to a lack of LGBTQ-competent care. Such disparities and lack of access to informed care are even more staggering in rural settings. As the state medical school for the Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho (WWAMI) region, the University of Washington School of Medicine (UWSOM) is in a unique position to train future physicians to provide healthcare that meets the needs of LGBTQ patients both regionally and nationally.
Objective: To describe our methodology of developing a student-driven longitudinal, region-wide curriculum to train medical students to provide high-quality care to LGBTQ patients.
Methods: A 4-year LGBTQ Health Pathway was developed and implemented as a student-led initiative at the UWSOM. First- and second-year medical students at sites across the WWAMI region are eligible to apply. Accepted Pathway students complete a diverse set of pre-clinical and clinical components: online modules, didactic courses, longitudinal community service/advocacy work, a scholarly project, and a novel clinical clerkship in LGBTQ health developed specifically for this Pathway experience. Students who complete all requirements receive a certification of Pathway completion. This is incorporated into the Medical Student Performance Evaluation as part of residency applications.
Results: The LGBTQ Health Pathway is currently in its fourth year. A total of 43 total students have enrolled, of whom 37.3% are based in the WWAMI region outside of Seattle. Pathway students have completed a variety of scholarly projects on LGBTQ topics, and over 1000 hours of community service/advocacy. The first cohort of 8 students graduated with a certificate of Pathway completion in spring 2020.
Conclusions: The LGBTQ Health Pathway at UWSOM is a novel education program for motivated medical students across the 5-state WWAMI region. The diverse milestones, longitudinal nature of the program, focus on rural communities, and opportunities for student leadership are all strengths and unique aspects of this program. The Pathway curriculum and methodology described here serve as a model for student involvement and leadership in medical education. This program enables medical students to enhance their training in the care of LGBTQ patients and provides a unique educational opportunity for future physicians who strive to better serve LGBTQ populations.
Keywords: LGBTQ health; diversity and inclusion; undergraduate medical education.
© The Author(s) 2020.