Links: LGBT Pre-Health
LGBT individuals have historically been under-represented in healthcare professions, however this has been changing significantly in recent years. Medical, nursing, and dental schools are actively promoting diversity within their faculty and student populations, education about LGBT issues, and outreach to the greater LGBT community. Some concerns that LGBT pre-health students may have are:
- Whether to be "out" as an applicant for health professional school, and to what degree
- Finding LGBT role models, mentors, and communities
- Potential discrimination in the workplace
- Feeling accepted and supported by the healthcare community
- Which schools will be most welcoming to LGBT students
In particular, the choice of whether or not to be "out" is often instrumental in how LGBT students apply to medical school. For some individuals, one's gender or sexuality may seem irrelevant to the application process, while for others, identifying as LGBT is a distinguishing feature that may highlight one's unique skillset and experiences as an applicant. For example, on many health professional school applications, there are questions about an applicant's experiences with adversity and how they have shaped his or her interest in a healthcare profession. Admissions committees are interested in how an applicant adds to the diversity of a school overall. In addition, applicants’ experiences may include LGBT-related volunteer work, academic courses, or other extracurricular activities relevant to their commitment to a healthcare vocation. LGBT applicants may have special interest in healthcare issues related to the LGBT patient population, or to other under-represented minorities. Medical schools will look favorably upon these experiences and the unique perspective these students can bring to healthcare professions. In the end, the decision rests with the applicant whether to self-identify as LGBT and how it connects with his or her potential career in healthcare.
Here are some tips for pursuing pre-health professions as an LGBT individual:
- Get involved with LGBT student groups as an undergraduate and after graduation. This is a great way to find allies and mentors, as well as opportunities to get involved with activism and volunteer work.
- Check out the Mazzoni Center in Philadelphia, for volunteer opportunities in LGBT healthcare.
- Actively seek mentors and role-models (both LGBT and non-LGBT alike) who can guide you in this process and help you grow as an applicant.
- When looking at health professional schools, pay attention to whether they advertise data about their LGBT communities, student support groups, domestic partner benefits, and even LGBT patient care curricula. Don't be afraid to ask questions about this during interviews, since this may be an important factor in deciding where you want to live and go to school for the next several years.
- When visiting schools, talk to the students and get a sense for how accepting the school is, as well as the greater community, in that area.
Resources and articles about applying to health professional school as an LGBT individual as well as LGBT patient care:
- "Does Medicine Discourage Gay Doctors?"
- "On Being Gay in Medicine" (pdf)
- LGBT Residency and Medical School Directory
- "Changing Times for LGBT Population Affect Medical Schools and Teaching Hospitals"
- "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender–Related Content in Undergraduate Medical Education" (pdf)
Educating doctors on LGBT issues:
- "Medical Schools Neglect Gay and Gender Issues"
- "Psychiatry Giant Sorry for Backing Gay 'Cure'"
- "For Many Older Gays, a Toll of Time and Isolation"
- "Are Medical Schools Ignoring LGBT Health? "
- "The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding"
- LGBT Resource Center - Health Services
- "In China, Grass-Roots Groups Take On H.I.V./AIDS Outreach Work"
- "College Health Plans Respond as Transgender Students Gain Visibility"
- "Informational Guide to Effective Practices for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (GLBT) Students and Patients"