Oct 28, 2018
Brianna Sohl, 23, a 2013 graduate of Rochester High School, is among a group of Wayne State University Medical School students involved with furthering health care for LBGT patients.
Sohl volunteers at the Detroit-based Corktown Health Center, the first clinic of its kind in Metro Detroit to offer a safe, affirming space for people in the lesbian, bisexual, gay, transsexual community.
“As I fall into the role of a physician, I want to be a health care provider that helps all patients, and I want to serve people who are LGBT specifically,” she says. “I think it’s a community that’s underserved in terms of health care.”
Many patients who self-identify as members of this community have not found physicians or clinics where they feel comfortable, says Laytona Riddle-Jones, M.D., the medical director at Corktown and an assistant professor of internal medicine and pediatrics at Wayne State.
“They may have had encounters with members of care teams that they perceived to be negative, either because of poor quality care, or lack of knowledge on the part of those providing care. These experiences can be traumatizing, and cause people to lose trust in the health care system,” Riddle-Jones says.
Health-care providers at the 24,000-square-foot Corktown clinic, which opened last year, offer primary-care services to all patients, but specialize in the issues facing LGBT community. Comprehensive HIV care, hormone treatments, breast and cervical cancer screenings, behavioral health services and health insurance navigation are some of the services.
Students at the Wayne State University Medical School volunteer in the community to gain hands-on experience. At Corktown the students provide HIV screening and gain experience treating and interacting with the patients.
In addition, the Wayne State University School of Medicine has added curriculum to provide further training in the specific needs of LGBT patients. Training in LGBT health averages just one to two hours, says Dr. Diane Levine, associate professor of internal medicine at WSU School of Medicine. “Wayne State’s curriculum revision will add a lot more,” she says.
These topics have been neglected in medical schools in the past because of stigma, fear and politics, and that needs to change, Riddle-Jones says.
“Doctors are trained to take care of people, shouldn’t they be trained to take care of all people, no matter what their gender, ethnicity, or religion, etc?” Riddle-Jones says. “Physicians should not discriminate. In order to be qualified to take care of all human beings, students must attain broad and diverse training to prepare to take care of all people and demonstrate competency in that care.”
Sohl, who is a member of LGBT People in Medicine at Wayne State, said educating future physicians in this area is especially important.
“There’s a history of LGBT patient discrimination, and I think it’s awesome that Wayne State, a medical school with such history, has formed a relationship with a clinic like Corktown,” Sohl says. “Ultimately, it makes the students that are at Wayne better students. By having this exposure in our training it’s imperative to closing these health care gaps.”