LGBT Trainee and Health Professional Perspectives on Academic Careers—Facilitators and Challenges

  • Citation: Sánchez, Nelson F., Susan Rankin, Edward Callahan, Henry Ng, Louisa Holaday, Kadian McIntosh, Norma Poll-Hunter, and John Paul Sánchez. “LGBT Trainee and Health Professional Perspectives on Academic Careers—Facilitators and Challenges.” LGBT Health. Dec 2015, 346-356.
    • Topics:
    • Movements for Inclusion
    • Keywords:
    • academic medicine
    • gender identity
    • healthcare professionals
    • public policy and advocacy
    • sexual orientation
    • LQBTQ+

Diversity efforts in the academic medicine workforce have often neglected the identification and inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) health professionals. Many of these professionals have served as educators, researchers, administrators, and leaders at their academic institutions, but their perspectives on the barriers to and facilitators of pursuing academic careers, as well as the perspectives of trainees, have not been explored. We applied a purposeful convenience sampling strategy to collect quantitative and qualitative data among LGBT health care professionals (HCP) and trainees. The authors identified trends in data using bivariate analyses and consensual qualitative research methods. We analyzed data from 252 surveys completed by HCPs and trainees and a subset of 41 individuals participated in 8 focus groups. Among survey participants, 100% identified as lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) or queer; 4.5% identified along the trans-spectrum; 31.2% identified as a racial or ethnic minority; 34.1% identified as faculty; and 27.4% as trainees. Eighty-one percent of trainees were interested in academia and 47% of HCPs held faculty appointments. Overall, 79.4% were involved in LGBT-related educational, research, service, or clinical activities. Facilitators of academic careers included engagement in scholarly activities, mentorship, LGBT-specific networking opportunities, personal desire to be visible, campus opportunities for involvement in LGBT activities, and campus climate inclusive of LGBT people. Barriers included poor recognition of LGBT scholarship, a paucity of concordant mentors or LGBT networking opportunities, and hostile or non-inclusive institutional climates. LGBT trainees and HCPs contribute significantly to services, programs, and scholarship focused on LGBT communities. LGBT individuals report a desire for a workplace environment that encourages and supports diversity across sexual orientation and gender identities. Institutional policies and programming that facilitate LGBT inclusion and visibility in academia may lead to greater faculty work satisfaction and productivity, higher retention and supportive role modeling and mentoring for the health professions pipeline.

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