Dr. James Owen appointed lead of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and 2-Spirited Education Theme

Oct 12, 2017

Dr. James Owen is the new Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and 2-Spirited (LGBTQ2S) Education Theme Lead for the Undergraduate Medical Education Program (MD Program) at the University of Toronto.

 “I am thrilled that I was chosen for this role. It is an excellent opportunity to develop and promote health for and within the LGBTQ2S community,” says Dr. Owen, who is also an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine (DFCM) and a family doctor at St. Michael’s. “I feel strongly about this issue as it is a clinical practice interest of mine. Also, nearly half of my patients would identify as LGBTQ2S, and I am a member of the community.” Dr. James OwenDr. James Owen/Photo Credit: Tracy Hatten

The University of Toronto is the first Canadian school to fund this position among several others like theme leads for black and indigenous populations. The multifaceted role comes in three parts with the first being curriculum development. Dr. Owen will oversee the inclusion of new elements and renewal of current LGBTQ2S concepts in the curriculum. He will also work to integrate LGBTQ2S concepts into clerkship.

The second part will touch on support in the form of groups and mentorship for students in the community, including “Out in Medicine”, the student-led group that oversees social and educational opportunities for students in the MD Program.

Faculty development will ensure that teachers are comfortable and confident with addressing LGBTQ2S health issues. Through awareness and advocacy programs, he hopes to bolster their competencies when working with the community or teaching identified students.  

“My goal is for the MD program at the University of Toronto to be a centre of excellence in Canada for LGBTQ2S education in curricular elements and student experience.”

He sees the immediate potential through his current work. As the course director in charge of the Foundations Curriculum course “Complexity and Chronicity”, he is already deeply immersed in curriculum development. In this role, he works with faculty educators in the MD Program, including some family physicians from the DFCM, to develop course material that integrates content from previous courses in Foundations. Concepts include the approach to the care of complex and real-life patient cases. The LGBTQ2S health theme, along with others, will feature prominently in one week of a course entitled “Intersectionality and Equity”.

Dr. Owen is the third DFCM academic faculty member to hold the role.

“I think that there is much expertise within the DFCM in LGBTQ2S health. Toronto has the largest LGBTQ2S community in Canada. Alongside our specialist colleagues within the MD Program, DFCM has an opportunity to showcase the high-quality patient care that we are providing to our patients and remain at the forefront in LGBTQ2S health education.”

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