UW medical school chosen to launch new LGBTQ+ fellowship program focused on equitable health care

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MADISON, Wis. — The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health has been chosen to host a new fellowship program focused on improving health equity for the LGBTQ+ community.

The school’s National LGBTQ+ Fellowship Program, which will receive $750,000 in funding from the American Medical Association Foundation over the course of four years, will create a clinical training program for early-career physicians so they can help optimize LGBTQ+ patients’ health.

Dr. Elizabeth Petty, senior associate dean for academic affairs at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, and the principal investigator and program director for the interdisciplinary fellowship program, said the goal of the program is to make sure members of the LGBTQ+ community receive high-quality, equitable care.

“This funding provides a very exciting and critically important opportunity to integrate primary care and public health in highly innovative ways that will significantly accelerate needed change to optimize the health of LGBTQ+ and gender expansive individuals,” she said.

The fellowship program will be hosted in the school’s Department of Family Medicine and Community Health. The program’s first fellow will start their year-long training in July 2022 with the option of continuing their training after. One fellow will be accepted each year after, with the eventual goal of recruiting three per year by the fifth year.

Fellows enrolled in the program will participate in classroom trainings in LGBTQ+ health care, engage in research, teaching mentoring, community partnerships and more.

“We envision a future where LGBTQ+ and gender diverse patient populations experience optimal health and feel accepted and supported by health care providers who are well-versed in both general and unique medical needs of LGBTQ+ patients,” Petty said. “We have much ground to cover before we reach this goal, as far too many LGBTQ+ patients in our society currently experience oppression, stigma, lack of support, lack of medical understanding, and discrimination when seeking care, which leads to unacceptable and life-threatening health disparities. Our team is deeply committed to changing that narrative.”

Officials with the AMA Foundation said they chose University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health because of its network of institutional and community leaders who have an expertise in LGBTQ+ health.

“The LGBTQ+ community is widely diverse, and for those members of the community who are also members of other marginalized groups – such as people of color, people with disabilities and those living in rural communities – the outcomes are exponentially worse,” John D. Evans, chairman of the AMA Foundation Fellowship Commission on LGBTQ+ Health, said. “The COVID-19 pandemic further highlighted the health care inequities for LGBTQ+ people of color and other marginalized communities as those groups received inconsistent and inadequate care and representation throughout the pandemic.”