Carl G. Streed Jr., National LGBT Policy Coordinator
AMSA was invited to a Human Resources Service Administration (HRSA) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Providers and Students Listening Session held at the Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday, November 1st.
Last April, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius released a list of recommendations stating how HHS could work to improve the health and wellbeing of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Included in those recommendations, the Secretary stated that “HHS’ Health Resources and Services Administration will also convene professional groups that represent LGBT health providers and students to identify challenges and opportunities for training LGBT providers and to isolate strategies geared toward increasing culturally competent care for LGBT patients.”
As such, this first listening session was convened to address the following questions:
- What are the training challenges and opportunities for LGBT providers?
- What strategies would be helpful to increase culturally competent care for LGBT patients?
- How/what levers can be used to advance cultural competency through health professions training (inclusive of behavioral health)?
- How can HHS use its health professions grants to encourage inclusion of cultural competency materials?
The meeting was an excellent opportunity to network with other national organizations, health care facilities, and research centers focused on LGBT health and well-being: Fenway Health, Howard Brown Health Center, The Coalition for LGBT Health, AAMC, University of California Schools, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association to name only a few attendees.
After a brief introduction by HRSA administrator, Mary Wakefield, and SAMHSA administrator, Pamela Hyde, 60 minutes were allotted to address the above questions. Unfortunately, given the significant number of attendees, only the first question was addressed; I only had about 90 seconds to share AMSA's perspective.
Some key themes echoed throughout the session:
The culture of medical training programs needs to shift and realize the importance of LGBT cultural competency
- Training is currently inadequate and does not prepare current students to provide adequate care for LGBT patients
- Many current providers admittedly feel they are lacking skills and knowledge to best serve LGBT patients
- Many providers are eager for additional training
- We need to make LGBT Cultural Competency training a REQUIREMENT of funding and accreditation in order to ensure all adopt these measures
- There needs to be a centralized source of recommendations/enforcement
Following the session, I had an opportunity to talk with a representative of the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs at the DHHS as well as representatives of the AAMC to discuss student involvement in developing training guidelines. Hopefully these connections will prove fruitful and allow AMSA to take a more active role in developing student training materials and recommendations.
I've since sent through Inspiration Exchange the announcement of regional listening sessions and I encourage you all to forward it widely to not only AMSA members but anyone interested in affecting positive change for the LGBT community.