In an effort to reduce treatment disparities, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) this week released its first guide on how to educate medical students about diagnosing, treating and caring for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) patients, gender-nonconforming patients and those born with differences in sex development (DSD).
"There has been no standardized set of competencies for medical education to address the health of individuals who are or may be LGBT, gender nonconforming, and/or born with DSD. Therefore, even the most progressive institutions have lacked a guide to direct curricular and institutional climate changes specific to these populations," AAMC said in an announcement.
The association's Advisory Committee on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Sex Development wrote the guide. It discusses how medical schools can integrate content on these patients' health needs, and offers a framework for assessing learners, curricula and institutions, according to the announcement.
"It's not adding a lecture on gay or lesbian people, it's not adding a lecture on transsexual people, because that continues to reinforce the idea that they are 'other,'" Northwestern University's Scott Leibowitz, M.D., an assistant professor of child psychology and a member of the committee, told NPR.
"Instead, we translated the issues into the language of what we call competency-based medical education in pre-existing courses," Leibowitz said, adding, "We're saying when you're already teaching on the hormonal axis, say, 'For transgender people this is how it would be.' "
Hospitals still have a ways to go, according to the Human Rights Campaign's 2014 Healthcare Equality Index, which measures how well healthcare facilities treat LGBT patients. While problems were found across the board, transgender patients were "particularly vulnerable to inequitable treatment," according to the report. One suggestion: require hospitals receiving Medicare and Medicaid payments to bar discrimination against patients based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
A study in the Annals of Emergency Medicine found that three out of 10 transgender patients with self-reported need for care were able to receive treatment in the emergency department.