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Michael Haymer


Michael HaymerMichael Haymer, third-year medical student in the UCLA PRIME program, at the David Geffen School of Medicine.

Focuses on Underserved Communities and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Patients

Michael Haymer is earning a dual degree in medicine and business through the five-year UCLA PRIME program, which focuses on developing leaders who will improve healthcare delivery, research and policy in underserved communities.
What are some of the distinct needs of LGBTQ patients?
Discrimination and stigma in healthcare are huge problems for LGBTQ patients and their families, negatively affecting patient health and hindering the patient-provider relationship. These patients often experience discrimination, or at least perceived stigma, including being referred to as “it” or by a pronoun that does not fit their gender expression. Many physicians tell transgender people they are not knowledgeable enough to treat them, despite available academic literature.

How does UCLA rank in its treatment of LGBTQ patients?
UCLA’s medical school and hospitals are very unique in the attention they give to LGBTQ issues. The medical school provides lectures on transgender health for students in their preclinical years and there are threads throughout the curriculum that touch on LGBTQ topics. Forward-thinking faculty leaders, like Allison Diamant, MD, Janet Pregler, MD, Sebastian Uijtdehaage, PhD, and Mark Litwin, MD, among others, have championed these additions. There is always room for improvement, but UCLA is among the top institutions to incorporate these topics into the mainstream medical curriculum.

Why did the UCLA Academic Senate honor you with the 2013 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award?
When I served as co-president of MedGLO, UCLA’s LGBTQ and allied medical student organization, we noticed that UCLA had never passed the core criteria needed to earn national recognition by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) as a leader in LGBTQ healthcare equality. With the help of faculty and administrators, we developed a logic model that showed a step-by-step path for improving UCLA’s strengths as a leader in LGBTQ healthcare. It included changes in visitation policies and a clear definition of family to include same-sex couples and partners. I was honored to receive the award, but truly thrilled when the hospital achieved 100 percent on the HRC’s core criteria for its LGBTQ policies. This was a collaborative effort among students, faculty and administrators with the single goal of providing high-quality, patient-centered care to every individual, regardless of their background.

What made you become such a strong advocate for the LGBTQ community?
I grew up as a young gay male in a very conservative community. When I first decided I wanted to practice medicine, I wasn’t even sure it was possible for a gay man like myself to become a doctor. My goal is that in the future, if a gay kid searches for “gay doctors” online, my picture will come up.

Who inspires you to fulfill your goals?
My mom is a huge inspiration to me. She had diabetes and heart disease and was a shining example of a mother who sacrificed her own healthcare so her children could have health insurance. She died at age 66 while I was in my first year of medical school. She was a loving person who would talk to babies in grocery lines or people she met on the train. I want to remember her by being the kind of doctor people can talk to, the kind of physician they want to see. I feel I can honor my mother’s memory by helping the underserved communities she was a part of — the elderly and marginalized women — as well as the LGBTQ community.

What kind of medicine do you hope to practice?
I am interested in primary care and urology, specifically related to transgender health. I hope the medical community can come together to improve the care we provide to LGBTQ patients, and I think the best place to start is to understand the diversity that exists within the community.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I play goalie for a water polo team in the city of West Hollywood and I’m a lifelong Los Angeles Kings fan. I also love spending time with my partner, Kyle, and our two dogs, Lea and Charlie.