CIR has built a strong foundation of advocacy for physicians as well as patients – it’s one of the four pillars of the union, in fact – and that is especially true when it comes to the most vulnerable and at-risk populations in our communities.
For Dr. Peter Ureste, a psychiatry resident at LAC+USC Hospital in Los Angeles, that means working to help LGBT patients both inside the hospital and out, as well as for himself in his residency.
“Finding an LGBT-friendly program was a consideration when I matched,” he said. “It was somewhat hard to find an LGBT-friendly hospital because most did not explicitly acknowledge LGBT health issues.”
Few hospitals do, which is why GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTEquality (formerly known as the Gay & Lesbian Medical Association) was formed in 1981 as a means to ensure healthcare equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender patients as well as healthcare workers. The organization has taken on issues such as healthcare reform, hospital discrimination, cultural competence, discrimination against those with HIV, marriage equality, and many more, and recently brought members together for the 32nd GLMA Annual Conference.
For Dr. Ureste, who represented CIR at this year’s conference, it underscored the importance of collaborating with other disciplines, such as nursing, social work, community organizing, and psychologists.
“Health disparities have been identified among sexual minorities, and in order to advocate for our LGBT patients then we need to be involved in addressing these inequities. Learning about various initiatives to address these disparities at the conference was very inspiring. We can make a difference at our own institutions.”
The GLMA Conference focused on six areas of professional competencies to encourage improvement in LGBT healthcare: Healthcare Knowledge, Interpersonal Communication Skills, Patient Care, Professionalism, Practice-Based Learning and Improvement, and System-Based Practice. Dr. Ureste added his own ideas for how to build a strong LGBT residency program.
“In an ideal program, it would incorporate into the curriculum various opportunities to learn about LGBT health. For example, there would be a task force to address LGBT health issues within the hospital and clinics, maybe a specialty clinic, outreach programs, and faculty who themselves identify as a sexual minority and are ‘out,’ demonstrating that the institution values diversity.”