Doug Hughes, assistant dean of diversity and multicultural affairs and director of medical education at the Boston University School of Medicine, says BU devotes 10 curriculum hours—twice the national average—to LGBT topics.
Hughes, who was part of a recent Association of American Medical Colleges panel on integrating LGBT health into medical education, says the school sent out an anonymous poll asking students about their sexual identity. Of the 140 BU medical students who responded, 10 percent identified as "exclusively homosexual," and 1 percent said that they were "predominantly homosexual," Hughes says.
Medical schools were "an unwelcoming environment to LGBT faculty and students" through the mid-2000s but have since come a long way, Hughes says. Still, even students who come out in medical school aren't necessarily comfortable being out in residencies.
"I don't think one shoe fits all," he says. "[Gay students] should do what they're comfortable with."
Hughes advises LGBT applicants to visit school websites and search for the term "LGBT" to see how comfortable the school is with diversity. "If it's not in the printed material [and] if it's not in the online material, [then] it's a question mark," he says. "If there is no LGBT club at that school, it would be very hard for the potential applicant to know what they're walking into."
He also recommends that applicants contact officers of gay student clubs to "get an inside view ... from other accepted students." But overall, he's confident that LGBT applicants will be treated well.
"My advice would be to jump right in," Hughes says. "I think the water is fine at our school and at many schools."
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