MD Program

Improving health for LGBTQ patients, Dr. Amy Bourns appointed as LGBTQ theme lead


Dr. Amy Bourns knows that the LGBTQ population has unique health needs. She is working to address those needs by ensuring MD Program students have the knowledge, skills and attitudes they need as physicians to competently care for LGBTQ patients. In 2014 Bourns was appointed our Faculty Lead for LGBTQ Health Education. In this role, Dr. Bourns develops LGBTQ health curricular elements, promotes faculty awareness, supports students, and develops advocacy programs to address the health disparities identified by public health researchers between LGBTQ patients and their heterosexual and cisgender peers.  

Bourns has been active in leading efforts to address potential curricular gaps that could be contributing to these disparities. “The Foundations Curriculum is a fantastic opportunity for LGBTQ content integration,” says Bourns. Her approach emphasizes both cultural competencies and clinical knowledge. “We are really focusing on integration of this content right across the curriculum. For example, during the endocrinology unit, students will cover hormone therapy for transgender patients. Then, during geriatrics, students will learn about issues faced by older LGBTQ adults,” she explains.

“Although educators at many Canadian medical schools have been working to integrate LGBTQ content into their curricula, U of T is the first to formalize and fund a role for this purpose,” Bourns notes. “I think this sends the message to faculty, students and patients alike that our MD Program is dedicated to addressing the health care disparities of the LGBTQ population, and is committed to creating a learning environment that fosters appreciation and respect for diversity.”

Her work doesn’t stop with curriculum development. Bourns strives to create positive space on campus through a number of initiatives. During orientation week, you can find Bourns at the diversity booth greeting students and providing information on resources and support for LGBTQ students. She heads the newly formed LGBTQ Advisory Committee and Community Liaison, created to encourage student engagement and to give LGBTQ community members a voice in her initiatives.

Faculty also have the opportunity to deepen their awareness of LGBTQ health issues as part of a series of faculty development videos focused on diversity. Bourns also developed a training session for the Office of Health Professions Student Affairs and the UME Enrolment Services staff that establishes baseline competencies and best practices for safe spaces which will be delivered this summer.

Bourns also participates in and encourages research initiatives in LGBTQ health. She is involved in a study that will survey select medical schools including the University of Toronto to assess students’ sense of preparedness to provide medical care for LGBTQ patients by the end of their training.

Prior to her appointment, Bourns proposed, designed and completed the first LGBTQ Health Enhanced Skills Fellowship in Canada, and currently supervises fellows completing the program. She practices as a family physician at Sherbourne Health Centre, in its LGBT Unit.

Bourns’ maternity leave begins April 1, 2016. Her maternity leave replacement is Dr. Ed Kucharski.

LGBTQ health faculty development video focuses on terminology around LGBTQ health, historical milestones in the LGBTQ community, major health issues  and assumptions that should be avoided

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