The American Medical Association Foundation (AMAF) announced today that several of Harvard Medical School (HMS)’s affiliated hospitals in collaboration with Fenway Health in Boston, Mass., and Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) in Nashville, Tenn., will participate in the AMAF National LGBTQ+ Fellowship Program consortium of institutions. They join the pilot fellowship at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, N.Y., and the 2021 inaugural institution at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison, Wis. Today’s announcement marks the next chapter in the Foundation’s transformational initiative.
Launched in 2020, the fellowship program aims to provide enhanced physician training, education and cultural sensitivity while bringing awareness to the health care and institutional barriers faced by LGBTQ+ and intersecting communities. The program’s ultimate mission is to ensure that all LGBTQ+ patients receive the highest standards of care while helping to transform the landscape of medical education. The addition of two exceptional teaching institutions to the program demonstrates the AMAF’s commitment to moving the needle and taking the fellowship to scale nationwide.
“The AMAF is uniquely positioned to serve as a convening force to improve LGBTQ+ health equity by facilitating collaboration and knowledge sharing between key stakeholders and institutional leaders that will transform health care systems to be LGBTQ+ inclusive and affirming,” says Dr. William Sternfeld, president of the AMAF Board of Directors. “The result will be a workforce of LGBTQ+ health specialists with a rich body of knowledge that can be shared with all medical schools and health care professionals.”
The AMAF Board of Directors unanimously approved the recommendation from its Fellowship Commission on LGBTQ+ Health to award the two grants. With the vision and support of the AMAF LGBTQ+ Honor Fund Founding Donors and led by John D. Evans, the Commission is a collaboration of thought leaders, educational specialists, physicians and philanthropists who provides oversight on the development of the AMAF National LGBTQ+ Fellowship Program. As volunteers, the Commission has provided tremendous leadership in the development of this unique program and completes a rigorous and thoughtful review of applications.
Several factors were noted in the Commission’s recommendation to the AMAF Board to accept HMS- Fenway and VUMC fellowships into the program, such as the extensive network of clinics across HMS affiliates and Fenway Health that serve LGBTQ+ patients from adolescence through older adulthood. HMS also established the Sexual and Gender Minority Health Equity Initiative to teach students foundational clinical skills in LGBTQIA+ health care while exploring the intersections of anti-LGBTQIA+ stigma with racism, ageism and ableism. The fellowship will extend and deepen this foundational work by implementing LGBTQIA+ health training systemwide for fellows, residents and faculty. HMS-affiliated clinical sites participating in the fellowship include Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Massachusetts General Hospital. Boston Children’s Hospital, Cambridge Health Alliance and Mount Auburn Hospital will serve as supplemental clinical elective sites.
“Our multi-site Harvard Medical School-Fenway Health LGBTQIA+ Fellowship team is honored and thrilled to have the opportunity to join the AMAF National LGBTQ+ Fellowship Program. Now more than ever, we need to equip the next generation of physician leaders in LGBTQIA+ health with the skills to provide comprehensive and affirming care for all LGBTQIA+ populations, across the lifecycle, with a focus on serving marginalized LGBTQIA+ communities,” states Jennifer Potter, MD, professor of medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School; and director of the LGBTQIA+ Population Health Program and co-chair at The Fenway Institute.
The AMAF Fellowship Commission also recognized VUMC’s commitment to personalized medicine and to improving outcomes for LGBTQ+ patients at VUMC and across the U.S. Established in 2012, VUMC’s Program for LGBTQ+ Health has a 10-year track record of investing in LGBTQ+ health and promoting national leadership in patient care, education, research and advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community. The clinical LGBTQ+ program at VUMC includes the Clinic for Transgender Health that brings together specifically trained experts to provide and coordinate comprehensive care for transgender and gender-nonconforming adults. The fellowship program will intercalate LGBTQ+ health education with all disciplines and throughout curricula at all levels of learners. VUMC’s organizational expertise in data informatics will allow for rapid dissemination of internal and external outcomes.
“We are incredibly excited and grateful to be a part of this consortium, in this group of academic medical centers working together to promote inclusive and personalized care for patients,” says Dr. Kyla Terhune, vice president for Educational Affairs at VUMC.
The fellowship initiative is in response to persistent, pervasive disparities regarding access to and quality of health care experienced regularly by LGBTQ+ individuals. Studies show that 80 percent of medical students demonstrate a bias of LGBTQ+ patients, leading to 1 in 5 LGBTQ+ adults avoiding health care services due to fear of discrimination. The result is not just harmful, it is deadly. The AMAF and participating institutions will address these inequities while building on existing foundations of diversity, equity and inclusion strategies that support affirming LGBTQ+ services. The AMAF welcomes individuals, foundations and corporations to join the conversation and connect with the Foundation to ensure all LGBTQ+ Americans have access to medical care.