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Recruiting and Retaining Students from the LGBTQIA+ Community

June 23, 2022


062322_IOME_PCOM_Adrianne_100x100To celebrate Pride Month, Adrianne Jones, the chief admissions officer for Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM), shares her perspective on how colleges of osteopathic medicine (COMs) can better recruit and retain students from the LGBTQIA+ community, along with effective strategies adopted by PCOM that other COMs may find helpful in advancing LGBTQIA+ admissions.


Say gay.

As the Chief Admissions Officer for Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) and an out lesbian, I am able to lead in an intentional and inclusive way. I am on a mission to use a holistic admissions review process to identify gaps in access and to create an inclusive enrollment process. At PCOM, we are looking at ways we could better recruit and retain students from the LGBTQIA+ community.  

Representation matters.

As part of the application process, PCOM candidates can opt to self-identify as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. PCOM is committed to growing diverse practitioners. At our medical college, we lacked information. We realized that we could not retain or train diverse practitioners if we could not identify them. Adding this information as part of the admissions process gives PCOM a way to understand the LGBTQIA+ student experience.  

Show your colors! PCOM is flying a PRIDE flag at all three locations in celebration during the month of June. We are proud to show our PRIDE.

Provide visual cues on your college campus that create a more inclusive and welcoming environment.

We are strengthening our diversity data collection. The Office of Admissions, and the Office of Diversity and Community Relations directed by Marcine Pickron-Davis, PhD, are collaborating to create a more contemporary definition of URiM (underrepresented in medicine). Our definition expands to include sexual and gender minority data. Having this information also allows us to address LGBTQIA+ health disparities. We have extended the term “medicine” to include all of the PCOM programs, not just medicine.

Find your people. All members of the PCOM community can create signature lines that include a space to display preferred pronouns.

In the Office of Admissions, SAFE SPACE stickers are on display.

Provide visual cues for LGBTQIA+ candidates that you are serious about your commitment to inclusion. Faculty and staff can obtain training to create spaces where members of the LGBTQIA+ community can feel safe. 

Discrimination is real.

We have partnered with our Office of Diversity and Community Relations to identify and address our biases. We have embedded our principles for diversity, equity and inclusion into our strategic plan and aligned them with our enrollment goals.

Not every member of the LGBTQIA+ community will feel safe coming out. PCOM has affinity groups, PRIDE student clubs and Diversity Councils as resources for students to meet, make friends and find support.

At PCOM, we are building future healthcare practitioners and they will touch the LGBTQIA+ community.  It is equally important to identify practitioners so that we can provide the needed resources, but also critical to prepare practitioners who are not in the LGBTQIA+ community to understand its needs.