By ELLEN GOLDBAUM
Published April 18, 2023
UB medical students who are recipients of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences’ 2022 Fellowships in Social Justice, Equity Administration and Leadership will share their research findings at a symposium on April 19.
Topics range from an oral history of the Fruit Belt to empower the community where the Jacobs School is located, to examining inequities in stroke care in Buffalo, to curricular changes geared toward improving the learning experiences of members of the LGTBQ+ community.
The hybrid Social Justice Fellowship Research Symposium takes place from 5-8 p.m. in the Active Learning Center at the Jacobs School. To attend virtually, register here. Presentations begin at 5:30.
“Our social justice fellows are eager to share their progress on the projects they developed, all of which are geared toward addressing — at the Jacobs School and in our local community — some aspect of social, educational or health care inequities,” says Anyango Kamina, interim unit diversity officer of the Jacobs School and assistant dean for student development and academic enhancement.
The fellowships were among a series of recommendations put forth in a student-written document presented to the Jacobs School administration in June 2020 in response to the profound reckoning that followed the George Floyd murder and the global protests that followed. The fellowships are funded by the Office of the Dean, which provides a scholarship of $3,500 to support each project, as well as funding for any travel expenses.
Kamina explains that part of the motivation for these fellowships was to involve a broader cross-section of the student body in diversity and inclusion efforts, and to help mitigate the burden that often falls unevenly on students of color and other underrepresented groups.
The goal is to provide interested medical and biomedical sciences graduate students at the Jacobs School a chance to develop leadership skills to advance equity and justice.
Sometimes that takes the form of expanding the medical school curriculum, which is the focus of “Creating a Learning Environment Conducive for Members of the LGBTQ+ Community,” the project led by Nat Voos, a Class of 2023 MD candidate at the Jacobs School.
“The biggest priority in terms of curriculum is inclusion and representation,” he says, “in the form of lectures that include information on health disparities that LGBTQ+ people face, including transgender/gender non-conforming patients in patient and case presentations, teaching and using appropriate and inclusive language in all courses, and teaching students how to take a culturally competent history and physical on LGBTQ+ patients.”
Voos will describe the clinical elective he created that is centered on learning about transgender health care. The multidisciplinary elective involves clinical sites in the community, with students working with patients at Evergreen Health, UBMD Pediatrics, UBMD OB/GYN and other clinical spaces based on student interest.
“Connecting to the community is imperative for the work within our curriculum to make a broader impact,” he says. “I think there is a level of distrust between the LGBTQ+ community and medicine, so having spaces for outreach between medical students and the community is important. Through the transgender health elective, students are able to build skills to become more culturally competent physicians. Through curricular changes, we are preparing students to be more inclusive physicians, which will hopefully build trust in the long term.”
The first student in the course has just completed GYN 835 Caring for Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Patients.
Outside of clinical electives, Voos notes that other students are working to advance LGBTQ+ inclusivity across the entire curriculum.
“My colleague, Grant Parelli, is working on moving away from only talking about some of the poor health outcomes people in this community face and ensuring that we also talk about joy and pride when we discuss this population,” he says.
He adds that the student club OUTpatient is an excellent space for LGBTQ+ medical students at the Jacobs School to come together for support and to advocate for change.
Other topics that Jacobs School students will present at the symposium: