Promoting Sexual and Gender Minority Health Clinical Skills Training for All Medical Students

Acad Med. 2023 Apr 12. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000005240. Online ahead of print.


Despite societal, legal, and cultural improvements in their well-being, sexual and gender minority (SGM) people in the United States still face substantial physical and mental health disparities that are exacerbated by physician stigma and lack of training. Although there have been efforts at medical schools nationwide to address these disparities and interweave SGM health education into existing preclerkship courses, opportunities to practice related clinical skills during the clerkship years remain largely elective. Furthermore, national survey data from 2020 indicate that SGM Americans continue to delay or avoid medical care because of physician discrimination. By providing predominantly opt-in opportunities for hands-on SGM health clinical training, educators risk perpetuating existing structural inequities and widening health disparities. In this article, the authors advocate for required SGM health clinical training for all undergraduate medical students, regardless of intended specialty. They highlight 3 types of elective SGM health clinical training models currently in use at medical schools across the country, including student-run clinics, advanced electives, and longitudinal scholarly concentrations. Using these examples, the authors then outline ways that educators can interweave required SGM health clinical training into undergraduate medical education, including with the recruitment and retention of SGM faculty, staff, and students; required SGM standardized patient experiences; the integration of SGM clinical opportunities throughout the core clerkships; and partnerships with SGM health centers. Using these methods, medical schools can mobilize passionate students, faculty, and leaders to both counter the bigotry and hate faced by SGM populations and develop innovative strategies to improve SGM patient health outcomes and expand opportunities for SGM health scholarship.