Evidence of the sex and gender differences between male and female patients increases every day. Clearly, sex and gender differences have a lifelong impact the health of both men and women. The Director of Gender and Diversity Consulting International has been engaged in the process of integrating evidence of sex and gender differences into the medical curriculum at Monash University in Australia since 2001. The goal has been to graduate doctors who understand the significance of the evidence of sex and gender differences in their patients and who practice in ways to optimise patient outcomes, based on this knowledge.
The Director is therefore, one of the few people globally with the skills and experience to ‘mainstream’ gender competence into the policies, processes and practices of a medical school and its curriculum. This is a complex process that involves:
- advocacy and consensus building for the process among key stake holders
- endorsement and leadership on the issue form senior staff
- policy and process reviews with a gender perspective
- training of curriculum developers to integrate new evidence into curriculum and assessment
- training and support of academic and clinical tutors
- curriculum delivery with staged integration of content from most basic at most abstract concepts of sex and gender difference
- evaluation, updating and modification of curriculum delivery process where necessary
The culture of medicine has very deep historical roots and in some ways is resistant to change. However, it is also a profession that is constantly responding to innovation in practice. In order to achieve the cultural change necessary to medicine it must simply be presented for what it is: an evidence-based innovation in practice the will improve patient outcomes. Our experience within the medical curriculum at Monash has been that clinicians who deal with these issues amongst their patients every day welcome the opportunity to teach it from evidence, rather than to allow their students to learn it through trial and error as they were forced to do as students. Read more on integrating gender into medical education…
The same is true for all medical and allied health related fields including nursing, paramedics, midwifery and occupational therapy to name a few. Likewise, gender is just one social variable that can be integrated into medical curricula using this process, issues of race, ethnicity and language may also be integrated through this process to achieve cultural competence; an issue of particular importance in the modern world where populations of both patients and doctors and other health service providers are increasingly diverse.