Meet Dr. Maliha Khan, the 2022-23 David Geffen School of Medicine LGBTQ+ Fellow

Dr. Khan’s goal is to create a safe space for the queer community.

Dr. Maliha Kahn in Santa Monica on Friday, August 19, 2022. (Photo by Joshua Sudock | UCLA Health)

Before Maliha Khan, MD, became the 2022-2023 UCLA LGBTQ+ fellow at the David Geffen School of Medicine, she admittedly didn’t have much exposure to gender-affirming care, HIV prevention, diagnosis and treatment, or experience with patients who have substance use or mental health disorders.

“I'm a queer, Indian woman who trained in West Texas for medical school, and I didn't really understand the importance of access to LGBTQ+ medicine. Living in West Texas, I had very little exposure to LGBTQ+ health,” Dr. Khan says. “I have been very privileged to not experience discrimination, unlike many of my queer and trans friends.”

After learning about what her friends had been through, paired with the historical and long-standing distrust of medical professionals among the LGBTQ+ community, Dr. Khan said it became clear to her that she needed to further educate herself on LGBTQ+ topics.

“Throughout residency and even as a medical student, I prepared lectures and ended up pursuing more elective experiences rotating through LGBTQ+ clinical sites,” she says. “Through these experiences, I recognized that I really wanted to pursue a future career that aligned with my core values, both as a physician and as a part of the LGBTQ+ community.”

After completing medical school, Dr. Khan, who is from the Virginia/Washington D.C. area, moved to Los Angeles for her residency in family medicine at Kaiser Permanente. While there, she applied for and was accepted to the UCLA LGBTQ+ Fellowship.

The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA launched the LGBTQ+ fellowship in 2019 to address the community’s specific health care needs and inequities. George Yen, MD, the director of the program, aimed to create a multidisciplinary experience engaging all parts of the health system, from clinical care, research and medical education, to community work and behavioral health.

Just recently, Dr. Khan completed an 8-hour workshop on lesbian love and identity, part of the behavioral training aspect of the fellowship.

“It was an eye-opening experience,” Dr. Khan says. “It put many patient’s stories into a historical context by teaching us about lesbian representation throughout history and literature.”

The fellowship “is allowing me to have a broader lens and the ability to provide more holistic care to my patients,” she says.

The next generation

In addition to the workshops, mentors and resources that the fellowship offers, Dr. Khan is also able to help shape medical education.

As a clinical instructor at UCLA, Dr. Khan contributes to the LGBTQ+ early authentic clinical experience track, which gives medical students early exposure to working with patients from the LGBTQ+ community.

“It offers an avenue to bridge the knowledge gap surrounding LGBTQ+ medicine amongst providers,” Dr. Khan says.

In the upcoming months, Dr. Khan will work on a project with the Gender Health Program and attend the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) conference in Canada.

Besides providing resources and support from mentors, the fellowship is accelerating the evidence-based practice of LGBTQ+ medicine – “in important ways” she says.

“This fellowship is allowing me to get to a level where I feel fully capable and confident in providing the best care for my community” Dr. Khan says. “Medicine is supposed to encompass inclusivity and respect for vulnerable patients and this fellowship is providing that opportunity.”

Learn more about the UCLA LGBTQ+ Fellowship.

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