The Medical Gay and Lesbian Organization (MedGLO) began about 20 years ago in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. The group's original purpose is still a staple of its mission today: To welcome students, residents and faculty who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersexed, queer or allies (LGBTIQA). It has since expanded beyond just a place of comfort for LGBTIQA students and staff, to a place that welcomes advocacy and research in public health concerns for LGBT patients.
A welcoming environment
The first few weeks on campus are intimidating for any new student, and everyone looks for their home to be a community of like-minded professionals. During the opening week, students are invited to join current and past DGSOM students at an off-campus barbecue or evening around wine and cheese.
"The welcome events are a great way to meet other students and faculty," said 2015 MedGLO President John-David Lyons who goes by David. "There are so many subgroups within medicine, and this is a great social and networking opportunity."
Coming to DGSOM was a bit of a culture shock for Lyons, but the MS3 has been amazed at how welcoming the school is for all its students. MedGLO does its part to help these students relax from their coursework as needed and ease their transition during the first two years.
MedGLO also hosts a mixer early in the school year, allowing members to connect with other students from medical, public health and pharmacy programs in neighboring communities. David says that with the help of his co-president and other contributors MedGLO thrives.
Promoting LGBT research
Another valued aspect of MedGLO is its expanding focus on research, much of which furthers public awareness of the health concerns that are unique to the LGBTIQA students and community.
Mainstream health research is just beginning to recognize the disparities prevalent for LGBT youths and adults. However, most curricula do not yet address their health issues. One survey of medical school deans by the American Medical Association (AMA)reported a median of five hours of education spent on LGBT content. MedGLO helps to fill that gap for students, faculty and the surrounding community.
Earlier this year, MedGLO hosted a conference that assembled experts and researchers across specialties to talk about transgender youth health, race within the LGBT community, navigating health systems for same-sex parents and a host of similar issues. In addition to having partnered with the LGBT Center in Los Angeles and surrounding schools, MedGLO received excellent support from UCLA's administration.
The conference took place with more than 200 people registering, and Lyons hopes to have an even bigger event next year. "It's great to see the community recognizing the need for physicians competent in LGBT health, and the health struggles the members of the community face," he said.
MedGLO is not exclusive to LGBTIQA students. David encourages anyone who has an interest in LGBTIQA health issues to visit the organization.
By Patricia Chaney