LGBT TIG Week: David Fetterman on LGBT-related Evaluation, Medical Education, Civil Rights, and the Press

My name is David Fetterman.  I’m President & CEO of Fetterman & Associates, an international evaluation consulting firm (with 25 years experience at Stanford University) and past-president of the American Evaluation Association (AEA).  I am probably best known for empowerment evaluation work (helping people learn how to evaluate their own programs).  For examples see our blog and an article about empowerment evaluation in the School of Medicine at Stanford University in Academic Medicine, and the book Empowerment Evaluation in the Digital Villages:  Hewlett-Packard’s $15 Million Race Toward Social Justice, Stanford University Press

LGBT-Related Survey

One of my recent evaluations, conducted with my  Stanford School of Medicine students, focused on LGBT curricular training in medical schools throughout the U.S. and Canada.  The results – a median reported time of 5 hours of LGBT-related content in the entire curriculum – were published in this article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). It received considerable attention in the press, in part because it is as much a human rights issue as a medical education issue. I’ll share a few tips and tricks that emerged from conducting and publishing this study.

Hot Tip:  We used an online survey program to ask Deans of Schools of Medicine to evaluate their institutions’ level of coverage of 16 LGBT related topics.  Online survey tools, such as SurveyMonkey, save time and money and sort data almost instantaneously.  Surveying Deans automatically enhances the credibility of findings (especially if findings suggest minimal coverage of the material, as in our case).

Reporting survey findings was as much a social responsibility as a scholarly one.  See Anne Dohrenwend’s challenge to speak out about gay rights in Academic Medicine.

Cool Trick: Videoconferencing programs, including Skype, ooVoo, and Google Hangouts are invaluable tools to facilitate communication with team members at remote sites.  Most team members were located across the country, completing residency requirements.  Videoconferencing allowed us to function remotely and inexpensively.

Rad Resource: The Association of American Medical Colleges maintains a curriculum management and Information (CurrMIT) database that helps you determine the coverage of specific topics in medical schools. This database was particularly useful as a form of triangulation when our reporting format – “reported hours of instruction” – was questioned in a draft of our article.

Recommended LGBT cultural competence resources:

Fenway Health

Institute of Medicine of the National Academies

Lesson Learned:  Be prepared for significant opposition to unpopular or controversial findings.  Be prepared to speak with the press.  Highlight key findings and recommendations simply and concisely and be prepared to see how journalists use the information (see example of highlighted findings in New York Times.)  Appreciate your team and enjoy the media blitz for as long as it lasts.

aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators. We’re celebrating LGBT Evaluation week with our colleagues in AEA’s LGBT Topical Interest Group. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. 

2 thoughts on “LGBT TIG Week: David Fetterman on LGBT-related Evaluation, Medical Education, Civil Rights, and the Press”

  1. “Great post and fantastic study!”

    DF: Thanks Kari.

    And many thanks to all of my colleagues for your wonderful emails about the study.

    It did received tremendous attention in the press, CNN, ABC, CBS, Huffington Post, Washington Post, Forbes, Boston Globe, US News and World Reports, and the New York Times.

    See examples:

    US News and World Reports:


    Boston Globe:

    It did not hurt that the overwhelming majority of Deans of Schools of Medicine across the country and Canada agreed that LGBT curricular coverage was less than optimal – 5 hours on average.

    Take care and thanks again for the online and off-line discussions going here.

    – David

    PS For those who emailed for a bit more about empowerment evaluation I recommend taking a look at Wikipedia first and then feel free to email me for more online and hardcopy material as well as videos about empowerment evaluation.

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