A group of medical students at the University of Melbourne are developing a policy for the Australian Medical Students Association (AMSA) advocating for LGBTI content to be included in medical degrees.
Earlier this year medical student Asiel Adan founded MD Queer, a group for queer med students at the University of Melbourne. The group included an AMSA representative, presenting an opportunity for them to develop a policy for consideration by the association.
Adan explained to the Star Observer the problem was not unique to the University of Melbourne.
“From speaking to medical students at other universities, there isn’t really much in terms of LGBTI health that’s included in the curriculum at all,” Adan said, explaining how other groups’ health issues were represented in the curriculum.
“We definitely get lectures on, for example, Indigenous health…there’s also some lectures on multiculturalism and its relevance to health.”
Adan said trans and intersex patients in particular experienced the gap in doctors’ knowledge of their health concerns.
“What we would like to see is an increase in teaching in how to deal with respectful and inclusive practise, particularly for gender diverse individuals. So, how to address trans patients or intersex patients in the way they would like to be addressed and they way that’s respectful of their gender identity,” he said.
Adan said there has been significant interest in the policy from universities around Australia, and a range of LGBTI organisations were involved in the consultation process, including including the National LGBTI Health Alliance, Transgender Victoria and Organisation Intersex International Australia.
“Hopefully AMSA will take this policy on board…I really believe it can make a positive influence on the ways LGBTI individuals are treated in the healthcare system,” Adan said.
“There are some horror stories out there of the treatment of LGBTI individuals by medical professionals, and we would really like to change that.”
Transgender Victoria’s Sally Goldner has long advocated for better education on LGBTI issues for healthcare professionals, recently raising it as a key election issue.
“I’d almost be willing to say it’s the most critical grass roots issue—as opposed to law reform issue—we’ve got at the moment, this whole shortage of health professionals who have an understanding of trans issues both from a medical perspective and just from a service perspective,” Goldner told the Star Observer, applauding the work by Adan and his colleagues.
“So to have the issue being put out there in any way and to get papers like this distributed really keeps putting it under people’s noses.”