LGBT, Ally, Medical Student, LGBT Health, GWSMHS, Education, Visibility
The time is right to devise and implement a more coordinated approach to LGBT patient care and health professional training within the Washington, DC metropolitan area and beyond. The following George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences (GWSMHS) and Hospital (GWUH) LGBT Health Initiative proposal highlights possible strategies for addressing this need through a more centralized fashion. The seven focus areas proposed for the GW LGBT Health Initiative include: 1) Climate/Visibility; 2) Health Education; 3) Policy/Advocacy; 4) Community Outreach; 5) Research; 6) Patient Care; and 7) HIV/AIDS. A key stakeholder that is helping to realize this vision of a comprehensive, coordinated GW LGBT Health Initiative is the student organization GW Out for Health (GWOFH). Led by an executive board of medical students and a faculty advisor, GWOFH has been working to improve the climate for LGBT and ally professional health students and visibility of LGBT health issues on campus through grass roots efforts. GWOFH has approached these goals by emulating aspects of successful student organizations, namely Student National Medical Association, as well as reaching out and building relationships with LGBT resources in the community. Altogether, members of the group will provide critical perspectives on the initial needs assessment and gap analysis of LGBT health at GWSMHS and GWUH necessary to developing a strategic plan for the GW LGBT Health Initiative. In the past year, GWOFH has achieved concrete steps towards improving the climate and visibility of LGBT health issues by building up their organizational infrastructure and membership, which is evidenced by the three-fold growth in membership and creation of a private campus Listserv. To provide social support for LGBT and ally medical students, GWOFH hosted a welcome potluck for GWSMHS students and a social mixer with the LGBT student organizations at Georgetown and Howard medical schools. To improve the visibility of LGBT health issues on campus, GWOFH launched a successful Lunchtime Lecture Series on current research and best practices for reducing LGBT health disparities. GWOFH’s accomplishments have set a solid foundation for providing professional and social support for incoming LGBT and ally professional health students. Furthermore, GWOFH’s reputable presence on campus will be leveraged to help support the proposed GW LGBT Health Initiative in the coming year by providing an advisory role on the development of an initial needs assessment and gap analysis, especially in the areas of climate and visibility, health education, political advocacy, and patient care.
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