Arts & Entertainment
Ask Dr. Wang
Looking for research subjects
By Kevin Wang
Originally printed 3/2/2006 (Issue 1409 - Between The Lines News)
In the last couple weeks, I've had some requests to explain exactly what my research project entails and other requests to explain what it's like to be an out physician. In this week's special edition for BTL's Health and Wellness Guide, I thought I'd take the time to explain these two topics.
To put it simply, my research project is to make physicians aware of the LGBT community and community resources. Unfortunately, at least where I went to medical school, medical students don't get much education about our community. No one discusses the difficulty of the coming-out process, the kinds of emotions one feels when dealing with their families and sexual orientation and the risky behavior one may take to avoid confrontation. Even physicians with years of experience can feel uncomfortable seeing a patient who comes out to them.
My short-term goal, at least at this point, is to obtain some information from the LGBT community in our area by means of a survey. It doesn't ask for any personal information (phone numbers, addresses, etc.) but asks general questions regarding your coming-out process, your experiences with physicians and what you would like your physician to know about our community. I also created some other surveys for other fellow residents and attending physicians to assess their knowledge on the topic. After reviewing the surveys, I'll be summarizing the information and relaying it to speakers from our community - speakers I hope will agree to give lectures of varying topics about our community to the residents and attending faculty of my program.
That's just the short-term goal!
In the long run, I hope to create what our hospital calls a core competency curriculum. We have other programs that I believe need this education and I hope to include the lecture series with other curriculum topics.
As to what it's like to be an out doctor in the community, fortunately, for me, it's been nothing but a positive experience. I'm lucky that I get to work with a group of doctors, nurses and medical staff that are completely supportive of me and my desire to broaden their knowledge and awareness of the LGBT community. In fact, I have two other faculty physicians who are helping me with my research project simply because they believe it's an important topic and something that needs to be taught to fellow physicians.
To take it one step further is another goal. The hospital that I work at has already updated its Patient Bill of Rights including an anti-discrimination clause for sexual orientation, slashing out the phrase, "sexual preference." I hope to make our clinic more available to the LGBT community and to provide pamphlets and magazines that will make our waiting room more inviting for our LGBT patients. My ultimate goal would be to provide same-sex benefits for domestic partners - wish me luck on that one! In the end, I want to make my presence known and felt and for the hospital system to represent us!
So that's it for me for this column. I'll continue my discussion from my last column next month. Again, if you're interested in participating in the survey, just let me know and e-mail me at the address given below. And as always, I hope this column finds you in good health and spirits. See you next month!