Mills Quarterly, Fall 2017

Page 8

Finding the heart in health care

A new major seeks to increase equitable access and service in medical care, but many alumnae have been pursuing this goal for decades  BY JESSICA LANGLOIS, MFA ’10


OR THE PAST 18 YEARS, Maurie Davidson ’63, a licensed clinical social worker, has been a volunteer faculty member at the Geffen School of

Medicine at UCLA, teaching third-year students to consider the human condition of their patients, not just their illnesses. It’s the one time in medical school when medical, dental, and nurse practitioner students consider the interrelationship of physical and mental health — from social biases to economic systems that can affect quality of care. “We want to embark on an understanding of people, the cultural backgrounds they come from, the environment they live in, the environment they’re going back home to. Every individual patient comes from a unique set of circumstances,” explains Davidson. Four years ago, Davidson had an eye-opening moment when students responded to a question about cultural disparities they had noticed in the course of their training. Three out of the eight students wrote about the lack of information provided regarding treatment of transgender patients. According to a 2014 survey by the Human Rights Campaign, 70 percent of transgender or gender-nonconforming patients say they have experienced some type of discrimination in health care. And although both the Association of American Medical Colleges and the University of California, San Francisco’s Center for Excellence for Transgender Health have released guidelines for treating LGBT and gender non-conforming patients, many major medical schools and hospitals still lack standard clinical training. 6