Health Equity

August 2, 2022

VUMC, Harvard Medical School named to join AMAF consortium to address LGBTQ+ health disparities

Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Harvard Medical School will participate in the American Medical Association Foundation National LGBTQ+ Fellowship Program consortium of institutions.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Harvard Medical School (HMS) will participate in the American Medical Association Foundation (AMAF) National LGBTQ+ Fellowship Program consortium of institutions.

The institutions will each receive a $750,000 grant and join the pilot fellowship at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, selected as the inaugural institution in 2021.

A total of 29 institutions applied for Cycle 2 of the National LGBTQ+ Fellowship Program.

“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,” said Kyla Terhune, MD, MBA, Vice President for Educational Affairs at VUMC.

The AMAF Fellowship Commission 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 integrate 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.

Del Ray Zimmerman

“This fellowship funding comes as we celebrate 10 years of advancing LGBTQ+ health at VUMC,” said Del Ray Zimmerman, director, Office for Diversity Affairs and LGBTQ+ Health at VUMC. “With this critical milestone, we will be able to accelerate our work here, while also expanding educational outreach and the number of affirming providers in the region. I am grateful for AMAF’s faith in us to steward these resources to further reduce barriers to care for sexual and gender minority patients.”

Funding for VUMC’s LGBTQ+ fellowship program has also been provided by the TAWANI Foundation.

HMS was selected for its extensive network of clinics that serve adolescent, adult and geriatric LGBTQ+ individuals. It also established the Sexual and Gender Minority Equity Initiative to develop teaching materials that explore the intersections of anti-LGBTQIA+ stigma with racism, ageism and ableism. LGBTQ+ health competencies and directives developed for the fellowship at HMS will be implemented systemwide for students, trainees and faculty.

“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 William Sternfeld, MD, 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,” he said.

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 one in five LGBTQ+ adults avoiding health care services due to fear of discrimination. 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.

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.