Background : There is an underrepresentation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer healthcare providers in the medical workforce and consequently, a limited number of LGBTQ+ identifying mentors to offer support and guidance. To address this need, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai created LGBT YQUTH MED (Young Queer Urban Teens for Health in MEDicine), a unique pipeline program that exposes LGBTQ high school-aged youth in the New York City area to careers in medicine and healthcare and improve their access to employment opportunities.
Methods : The pipeline program achieves this goal through structured science and medicine-related enrichment experiences, including interactive outreach presentations, targeted mentoring and support, “Saturdays at Sinai” immersion experiences, workforce development, and health-related internship opportunities. The program targeted youth at LGBTQ youth-serving organizations in New York City and surrounding area, with a specific focus on youth of color and transgender/gender non-conforming youth, both of whom experience some of the most profound barriers to employment.
Results : As part of the pipeline program, Mount Sinai students visited five local LGBTQ Youth Organizations, including locations in Manhattan, Staten Island and New Jersey. A total of 51 youth experienced the interactive outreach presentations and six youth attended the Saturday at Sinai event. Demographically, the youth ranged from different backgrounds, ethnicities, ages, sexual orientation and gender identities, and career goals.
In the post presentation surveys, the vast majority of the youth found the program to be interesting and engaging, rating it an average 4.73 out of 5 on the Likert scale. When asked how helpful it was to hear other LGBT student's personal stories, the response was 4.76 out of 5, and most of the youth thought it was very important to have an LGBT role model/mentor, giving it a rating of 4.52 out of 5. The youth also responded they were very much interested in a career in medicine and public health after participating in the program, responding on average 4.04 out of 5. Of the participants, one student applied to Mount Sinai’s Phillips School of Nursing as a result of Saturday at Sinai and another student applied to the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai’s Graduate School.
Conclusions : The medical pipeline program served as an instrumental leadership experience for queer medical students as they played a vital role in the preparation and execution of the project. They also gained communication and presentation skills and a strengthen the sense of community among LGBTQ students and professionals. For LGBTQ youth who might be struggling with accepting their own sexuality and gender identity, it was especially powerful for them to be presented with students and professionals similar to themselves who defy stereotypes and serve as living proof that life can and does get better. The pipeline program provided visibility, mentorship and guidance necessary to encourage LGBTQ youth to pursue careers in medicine and science and increase the representation of queer healthcare providers in the medical workforce.