Should we avoid outing ourselves in the interview or application?

NeuroendoHolism

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hey y’all. This I think is an interesting topic, there is so much going through ones head during the interview process should we include actively censoring our sexuality or hey maybe and I think it is being gay is a huge advantage in being a doctor. Studies show just look at the ted talk that gay men have increased empathy and ability to bring different people together so hey why not? Literally tell me why not.
 

starri

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hey y’all. This I think is an interesting topic, there is so much going through ones head during the interview process should we include actively censoring our sexuality or hey maybe and I think it is being gay is a huge advantage in being a doctor. Studies show just look at the ted talk that gay men have increased empathy and ability to bring different people together so hey why not? Literally tell me why not.
I was warned up, down, and sideways by the pre-med committee at my undergrad (well, undergrad 2.0) not to mention my husband at any med school interviews. One of the secondary applications that I got asked for information about my spouse, and so I included his (obviously male) name without a second thought. I got an interview invite and was accepted about two weeks after that.

I don't know if my experience was at all typical, but I am of the mindset that any place that would turn you down for not being coy about it is a place you don't want to be.
 

Guero

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There are many reasons applicants might consider discussing their sexuality and/or gender during interviews and applications. For instance, if you're planning to come out or to continue being out, you may consider asking about the school's resources for GSM (gender and sexual minority) students, such as student organizations and health insurance options. Medicine is an inherently difficult journey. Set yourself up for sucess early on. Strongly consider whether or not you'll find comfort and fit within potential programs.

You may also be interested in learning opportunities that involve working with GSM communities: How often are students exposed to these populations during rotations and preceptorships, if at all? Are there any faculty that are out and might be willing to mentor fellow GSM students? Are there any current or planned GSM research projects? How strong is the GSM curriculum?

Likewise, for those with fewer interviews or those pursuing conservative regions, you may find the aforementioned issues less important than the acceptance itself. Whatever the reason, do what's best for you and your success. Trust your gut. You know yourself better than anyone else.

Much luck <3
 

tantacles

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hey y’all. This I think is an interesting topic, there is so much going through ones head during the interview process should we include actively censoring our sexuality or hey maybe and I think it is being gay is a huge advantage in being a doctor. Studies show just look at the ted talk that gay men have increased empathy and ability to bring different people together so hey why not? Literally tell me why not.
I think it's a great idea to mention your sexual orientation at interviews regardless of whether it's relevant to your interest in medicine because it is relevant to your life and it's important to ensure you will be in a supportive environment. I mentioned my partner at most of my residency interviews and my orientation came up at many medical school interviews, and I think it overall helped my application.
 

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There are many reasons applicants might consider discussing their sexuality and/or gender during interviews and applications. For instance, if you're planning to come out or to continue being out, you may consider asking about the school's resources for GSM (gender and sexual minority) students, such as student organizations and health insurance options. Medicine is an inherently difficult journey. Set yourself up for sucess early on. Strongly consider whether or not you'll find comfort and fit within potential programs.

You may also be interested in learning opportunities that involve working with GSM communities: How often are students exposed to these populations during rotations and preceptorships, if at all? Are there any faculty that are out and might be willing to mentor fellow GSM students? Are there any current or planned GSM research projects? How strong is the GSM curriculum?

Likewise, for those with fewer interviews or those pursuing conservative regions, you may find the aforementioned issues less important than the acceptance itself. Whatever the reason, do what's best for you and your success. Trust your gut. You know yourself better than anyone else.

Much luck <3
I think it's a great idea to mention your sexual orientation at interviews regardless of whether it's relevant to your interest in medicine because it is relevant to your life and it's important to ensure you will be in a supportive environment. I mentioned my partner at most of my residency interviews and my orientation came up at many medical school interviews, and I think it overall helped my application.
I agree with both these comments.

I was out on my medical school application because it was relevant to some of my experiences and motivations for medicine. More importantly though I really wanted to find a school with a welcoming and supportive environment. I had come out late in college and knew medical school would be a time for a lot of personal growth in this domain. I have no regrets in that regard. It was great going to a school where there was a robust network of peers and faculty who had this shared experienced.

On my residency application I was a bit less out just because it wasn't quite as relevant to my interests at that point. It was still obvious if you did a close reading of my application (MSPE mentioned interest in doing more work with LGBTQ populations & I was in the student group) but still not as forward. I asked at a lot of programs about opportunities to work with with SGM populations but to my pleasant surprise this was actually an interest of many of my fellow applicants in primary care IM, and most did not identify as a member of the LGBTQ community. It was great to connect with these people!

TL;DR: You do you.
 
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MrMe123

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My personal statement starts with my coming out process and was largely about my LGBT work experiences and I had a successful interview trail back in 2014-2015. Many schools nationally are currently trying to integrate more LGBT material into their curricula, are starting to discuss more actively trying to recruit LGBT students / including specific questions about gender/sexual orientation on their apps, etc.

I'm sure your experience as an LGBT person has largely shaped you, the assets you provide to an LGBT patient population who you share some higher level of connection with than your straight peers, and how you generally connect with others. If you can find a compelling way to shape the narrative go for it, don't worry about schools that might be turned off by it. Ultimately, if this is an important part of your life and identity (like it is for me and a lot of my colleagues), and you are going to pursue mentorship from LGBT faculty during your time in medical school, your CV for residency is going to be a rainbow too. You might as well start finding your place and advocating for yourself as an LGBT professional in medicine now.
 

CUatthefinishline

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I actually landed an interview (& am currently WL) at a place where I spoke about being queer & my SO in the secondary. I allowed myself to be super open due to that school's public outreach for LGBT peeps and the nature of the question. It even came up during my interviews and it was super relaxed (even though I felt more nervous about it: I'm super brazen on paper apparently ;)). However, I did not bring it up at most schools (I didn't mention a SO either way actually) because it didn't relate to the questions and it does not particularly pertain to my career goals (which are 30% undecided lol). I think if it is important to you, and/or your goals/motivations in medicine, than bring it up. Tactfully, of course, but do what feels right & portrays you in your best & truest light. I spoke about my passion for women, underserved and minority populations all through my applications (primary & secondaries) so schools knew what they were getting into and that's the lens I assessed them through as well. (I also applied broadly to cast a very wide net with my somewhat specific/niche bait)

That being said, like others have mentioned, if a school is willing to reject you simply for being queer or out then it shows that they aren't a school you would want to attend anyway. However, I am also Black so I tend to think of things in terms of "making it through"; if you attend a school that is less than friendly or supportive of what aspects of who you are (female, URM, queer), then it is ok to just get by. I have personally been more put off by schools that lack diversity (of race/gender/ethnicity/nationality/socioeconomic status in student/faculty/patient population) than anything else, but if those same schools were my only acceptances I would still go there. You are there to get a degree after all. You can build on that later, but sometimes you will be the odd man out in certain environments for a period of time.

Another random tidbit: I tend to think of sharing my queer status or SO info kind of like wearing my natural hair (which I do a lot). It's an extension of myself & reveals a vulnerable part of me, and how people react to that (or lack to their reaction, which is the goal) shows me things about my environment. But I also use it as a statement to change things for people coming after me; people cannot get used to what they never encounter. Sharing that you are LGBT helps others down the line and helps change views, but there is nothing wrong with choosing not to be the trendsetter. You choose your path and you don't always have to be a blazing rainbow to live your truth and help others. (The world needs both the MLK's & Malcolm X's)

NOTE: Sorry if this got rambly and all over the place. I'll come back and edit it later (maybe)
 

ed*26

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My application was extensively queer -- my personal statement included an experience working with a transgender patient, two of my most significant experiences were LGBT-related, and for almost every school I wrote more about those experiences and my identity in the secondary. For two schools, both of which I got into, I wrote extensively in the secondary app about how coming out to my mother affected me. I got into several schools and have a nice scholarship to boot. I have LGBT friends who had similar outcomes. Don't listen to anyone who says you can't highlight that part of your life in your application. It should be one of a variety of reasons for why you would make a good candidate, but it's valid nonetheless.

I think medical schools appreciate clarity of purpose. I came into medical school saying that I felt very connected to my community, that I thought it was deeply important for LGBT patients to have providers that can advocate for them, and that I knew that this was going to be an important part of my career. I think that resonated -- medicine is built around service to patients, after all.

If you have any questions feel free to PM me! There's a bunch of ways to incorporate LGBT identity and advocacy into your career.
I've said it before and I'll say it again
 
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Is anyone on this thread actually on hormones or on track for surgery, or had the experience of having to hide their transgender status in a hospital for fear of being mistreated? Idk, I just feel like trans experiences don't compare to cis gay experiences in medicine.
 

otterxavier

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Is anyone on this thread actually on hormones or on track for surgery, or had the experience of having to hide their transgender status in a hospital for fear of being mistreated? Idk, I just feel like trans experiences don't compare to cis gay experiences in medicine.
Agree with this 1000%. I applied several years after transitioning (and was out on my med school applications, and am happy to talk about that) -- but even that is really different from the experience of someone who's applying early- to mid-transition, or has a nonbinary identity, or just isn't consistently read in a binary gender role that they ID with. There are a whole lot of challenges there, even at schools/programs that openly welcome LGBQ people.
 
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ed*26

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Is anyone on this thread actually on hormones or on track for surgery, or had the experience of having to hide their transgender status in a hospital for fear of being mistreated? Idk, I just feel like trans experiences don't compare to cis gay experiences in medicine.
Absolutely agree as well. The only trans medical student that I know of typically wouldn't be identified as trans without disclosing that. Navigating clinical years using pronouns that others wouldn't automatically assign to you would be very tough, but it does seem like there are students who do it. According to the most recent AAMC medical school graduating questionnaire (p.44), 0.3% (so 43) of medical students identified as trans, genderqueer, or another gm. The good news is trans health is a hot topic in medicine right now, so many academic centers are making efforts to educate clinicians. Wish I could give more concrete information.
 
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For example, I've had the interesting experience of being in Bellevue ICU for over 36 hours (after I passed out unresponsive in Times Square alone) and although I was not fully AAOx3 I slowly realized the nurse (who was obviously educated in China) was repeatedly trying to find excuses to physically inspect my genital region (they hadn't removed my cutoff shorts underneath my gown) because she wanted to "make sure" my wristband really matched my gender assigned at birth. Then she insisted on watching me use the bathroom (which since it was ICU, it folded out under the sink). When she finally made the determination I was trans (because of the neurological complications of the medication interaction I had taken days prior I couldn't pee properly and made a mess) I could overhear her make a huge fuss to to her nursing peers and how she was surprised to find that.... her nursing peers really did not think this was grounds for changing my gender marker on my tag or how I should be treated.
 
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I actually landed an interview (& am currently WL) at a place where I spoke about being queer & my SO in the secondary. I allowed myself to be super open due to that school's public outreach for LGBT peeps and the nature of the question. It even came up during my interviews and it was super relaxed (even though I felt more nervous about it: I'm super brazen on paper apparently ;)). However, I did not bring it up at most schools (I didn't mention a SO either way actually) because it didn't relate to the questions and it does not particularly pertain to my career goals (which are 30% undecided lol). I think if it is important to you, and/or your goals/motivations in medicine, than bring it up. Tactfully, of course, but do what feels right & portrays you in your best & truest light. I spoke about my passion for women, underserved and minority populations all through my applications (primary & secondaries) so schools knew what they were getting into and that's the lens I assessed them through as well. (I also applied broadly to cast a very wide net with my somewhat specific/niche bait)

That being said, like others have mentioned, if a school is willing to reject you simply for being queer or out then it shows that they aren't a school you would want to attend anyway. However, I am also Black so I tend to think of things in terms of "making it through"; if you attend a school that is less than friendly or supportive of what aspects of who you are (female, URM, queer), then it is ok to just get by. I have personally been more put off by schools that lack diversity (of race/gender/ethnicity/nationality/socioeconomic status in student/faculty/patient population) than anything else, but if those same schools were my only acceptances I would still go there. You are there to get a degree after all. You can build on that later, but sometimes you will be the odd man out in certain environments for a period of time.

Another random tidbit: I tend to think of sharing my queer status or SO info kind of like wearing my natural hair (which I do a lot). It's an extension of myself & reveals a vulnerable part of me, and how people react to that (or lack to their reaction, which is the goal) shows me things about my environment. But I also use it as a statement to change things for people coming after me; people cannot get used to what they never encounter. Sharing that you are LGBT helps others down the line and helps change views, but there is nothing wrong with choosing not to be the trendsetter. You choose your path and you don't always have to be a blazing rainbow to live your truth and help others. (The world needs both the MLK's & Malcolm X's)

NOTE: Sorry if this got rambly and all over the place. I'll come back and edit it later (maybe)

Hi, are you comfortable disclosing which school this is? I would really appreciate an environment like this for many similar reasons as you.

Congrats on your acceptance and being yourself!
 

Goro

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hey y’all. This I think is an interesting topic, there is so much going through ones head during the interview process should we include actively censoring our sexuality or hey maybe and I think it is being gay is a huge advantage in being a doctor. Studies show just look at the ted talk that gay men have increased empathy and ability to bring different people together so hey why not? Literally tell me why not.
Hmmmmmm.....In the application, fine. In the interview? That's a tough one.

IF your app shows no involvement or service to the LGBT community, then an interviewer might think that you are playing the LGBT card to gain a URM/diversity admissions bonus. I'd be less cynical in this regard if I saw that one walked the walk and not merely talked the talk.

Don't do it at all at LUCOM or Lome Linda, though.
 
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Walter Raleigh

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In the application, you've recommended that LGBTQ applicants get service to the community, lest they be viewed as less than sincere. As for LUCOM or Loma Linda: not a good idea, unless you're of the school of thought that the admissions committee there should know who you are - and if they don't like that part of you, you'd rather be rejected than attend. Of course, in that case, why are you applying in the first place?
 
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ed*26

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It's also very possible to show authenticity about your identity in your essays. One of adversity essays was about the disaster that was coming out to my mom (and what it taught me about people, etc etc). I've thought about about sending it to my mom with the (generous) scholarship letter attached.
 

cryhavoc

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I’m gonna firmly remain rooted in the closet until I’m an actual doctor. I’ve explained this to my significant other and he agrees it seems wise. I don’t trust these old, conservative people who seem to run everything in medicine.

We have also been advised not to be political and unfortunately, whether LGBTQ+ people deserve rights and to exist seems to be a political issue in this country and not common sense. I figure I can bring change from within after I am a doctor.
 
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Walter Raleigh

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This is an approach. It is really an age-old question: fight injustice at personal risk, or wait until you are more powerful? I'd guess an awful lot of it would depend on the strength of your application. If you've got a 3.8/523 and have been in the Peace Corps - and have a publication to your name to boot - you would probably be very sanguine about bringing up issues like this. Even if it's a minus some places, others will like that forthrightness, if you can back it up - and you're going to get in somewhere unless something went quite wrong. If you've got cookie-cutter ECs and a 3.6/509, and really want MD? Then it gets a bit trickier, potentially.
 
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sb247

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I’m gonna firmly remain rooted in the closet until I’m an actual doctor. I’ve explained this to my significant other and he agrees it seems wise. I don’t trust these old, conservative people who seem to run everything in medicine.

We have also been advised not to be political and unfortunately, whether LGBTQ+ people deserve rights and to exist seems to be a political issue in this country and not common sense. I figure I can bring change from within after I am a doctor.
There is no significant portion of the population that thinks gay people shouldn’t be allowed to exist, you’re being hyperbolic

There are plenty of legitimate things to be angry about without creating strawmen
 

ed*26

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I sit on the admissions committee at my school, which is a fairly conservative institution not on the coasts (but also not in the South). Being LGBTQ gets extra attention by our diversity officer. Being out will either be neutral or a benefit at most places. It probably won't be a huge benefit, though, without having something to go with it (I had done some work in LGBTQ health which was very positively received), so it's really up to your personal comfort--ithey can't control the impressions of every single interviewer. Being out on rotations may be a different story.
 

cryhavoc

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There is no significant portion of the population that thinks gay people shouldn’t be allowed to exist, you’re being hyperbolic

There are plenty of legitimate things to be angry about without creating strawmen
As another poster said earlier, if you are exceptional, it doesn’t matter. I don’t think it benefits someone in the middle of the pack or even bottom. You’re only “ allowed”to be openly gay in most professions if you’re an exceptional human being, otherwise it either does nothing or could even hurt you. You may think I’m being hyperbolic, but you honestly probably don’t know much out of your area unless you are LGBTQ+.

I’m assuming in your lifetime, if not your parents, members of this minority were involuntarily institutionalized, demonized and mistreated. Anyone who thinks society has done a full 180 in a lifetime is sort of naive in my opinion. Caution makes sense.

You have maybe a third of people who honestly don’t care about your orientation, a third who pretends not to care but does, and then the third who actively dislikes. That’s probably generous. Our political system is a great representation of the direction of the country.

Unless you are an exceptional human being based off your statistics or applying to liberal areas, I think it is a terrible idea to be open. My two cents.
 
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sb247

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As another poster said earlier, if you are exceptional, it doesn’t matter. I don’t think it benefits someone in the middle of the pack or even bottom. You’re only “ allowed”to be openly gay in most professions if you’re an exceptional human being, otherwise it either does nothing or could even hurt you. You may think I’m being hyperbolic, but you honestly probably don’t know much out of your area unless you are LGBTQ+.

I’m assuming in your lifetime, if not your parents, members of this minority were involuntarily institutionalized, demonized and mistreated. Anyone who thinks society has done a full 180 in a lifetime is sort of naive in my opinion. Caution makes sense.

You have maybe a third of people who honestly don’t care about your orientation, a third who pretends not to care but does, and then the third who actively dislikes. That’s probably generous. Our political system is a great representation of the direction of the country.

Unless you are an exceptional human being based off your statistics or applying to liberal areas, I think it is a terrible idea to be open. My two cents.
I’m saying that I’m a southern, straight, christian white guy. I know the things that get said about minorities and gay people because the people who like to say bad things think they can say them to people like me.

For real. There just aren’t that many who want to bar you from a job. There absolutely are almost none that want to ban you from “existing”. You’re right that it doesn’t necessarily help at a lot of places......because it shouldn’t. Who you like to sleep with shouldn’t be an application boost. Me saying I loke a woman shouldn’t get me points either.

You can agree to disagree but being gay doesn’t at all create a monopoly on the information about how society feels, I know what they say about you when you aren’t in the room and frankly not that many people care
 

cryhavoc

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Maybe my clinical rotations made me paranoid. I am not out nor am I obvious, so I've heard at least a dozen conversations between nurses and doctors ranging from "a mental illness" to "disgusting", etc.
 

Walter Raleigh

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As another poster said earlier, if you are exceptional, it doesn’t matter. I don’t think it benefits someone in the middle of the pack or even bottom. You’re only “ allowed”to be openly gay in most professions if you’re an exceptional human being, otherwise it either does nothing or could even hurt you. You may think I’m being hyperbolic, but you honestly probably don’t know much out of your area unless you are LGBTQ+.

I’m assuming in your lifetime, if not your parents, members of this minority were involuntarily institutionalized, demonized and mistreated. Anyone who thinks society has done a full 180 in a lifetime is sort of naive in my opinion. Caution makes sense.

You have maybe a third of people who honestly don’t care about your orientation, a third who pretends not to care but does, and then the third who actively dislikes. That’s probably generous. Our political system is a great representation of the direction of the country.

Unless you are an exceptional human being based off your statistics or applying to liberal areas, I think it is a terrible idea to be open. My two cents.
Exceptional: is generally a plus. Exceptional applicants will usually have options and so don't need to be concerned about possibly getting rejected from medical schools that have a prejudiced interviewer or something. Some medical schools really like LGBT applicants, as well. Average applicants: could go either way; if the narrative's good go for it. Seems like a slight positive that'll increase the variance. Bottom of the pack: I'd go for broke, what do you have to lose? If you're at the bottom of the pack, high-variance strategies can be good.
 
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n=1 but my app was very geared towards LGBT health so it came up in my secondaries too. It came up in one of my interviews and not the other, and I liked the school where it came up a lot more. I think it helped but I don't know to what extent. I agree that trans experiences could be very different and we don't have a lot of information on the climate, but I'd like to think that you can find a school that is welcoming and understanding of gender identity.
 

Moko

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Just another data point: I was out when asked during interviews for med school, residency, and more recently, jobs. My rationale was that my boss would eventually find out one way or another, and being open about my partner allowed me to screen out prospective employers and awkward potlucks. (all of the places that I interviewed at were super accepting, though admittedly these were limited mostly to the Midwest and the coasts)

Generally speaking for med school and residency applications, being out helped in some instances, but more often than not, it just served as another conversation piece. So for folks who are out, I would not feel the need to hide who you are if the topic comes up.

I have not been involved in LGBTQ-specific activities, so the only time that my sexuality was mentioned in my application was during secondaries that asked about overcoming obstacles, and even then, the essay focused more on my coping strategies and support systems.

Hope this helps alleviate some concerns. Ultimately though, there is no right or wrong answer here (unless someone is just clearly trying to score diversity points).