LGBT+Allies Organization for the Cultural Understanding in the Health Sciences (LOCUS)

Brandon Jones (L2) and Louis Monnig (L2), Co-Presidents 

LGBTQ health is a topic that has garnered increasing attention in recent years as providers are realizing their gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer patients face unique health challenges. LGBTQ individuals encounter social inequities that affect them psychologically and predispose them to poorer health outcomes. For instance, lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults are more likely to be current smokers, approximately 1 in 4, compared to 1 in 6 heterosexual adults currently smoking, according to the CDC.

Many providers agree that taking a sexual history can be awkward for them, even more so if the provider is unfamiliar with the health and wellness concerns of LGBTQ patients. In an effort to promote LGBTQ cultural competency at LSUHSC, the LGBTQ + Allies Organization for Cultural Understanding in the Health Sciences (LOCUS) has been working hard to become a more visible and active organization on campus. LOCUS is a community for LSUHSC students, faculty, and staff with the goals of taking action in our school to create a more inclusive space and to become the most open-minded providers.

Because healthcare is delivered in teams of many types of providers, we pride ourselves on having membership from all six LSUHSC schools. Although we are an LGBTQ organization, all are invited to join and learn what we can do to meet the health needs of the LGBTQ communities. We strive to create a space where students feel safe, can meet their colleagues in other schools, and foster an environment where progress can be made to better our school and community.

We have made great strides in increasing the visibility of our organization in the past few weeks with the launch of our new website (, which can be found on the LSUHSC Office of Diversity and Community Engagement main page. We created this platform to communicate upcoming school and local events, offer health resources, and provide scholarship information so that prospective students may know they will be welcomed at LSU.

We are happy to say that we have a very diverse, forward-thinking and passionate group of students in LOCUS that are here to enact change for the better and strive to make LSUHSC inclusive of all. As future healthcare providers and researchers, it is our duty to be accepting of all walks of life and to show compassion and empathy for all.

We hosted an LGBTQ health symposium this past April in conjunction with ETHIKOS, the School of Medicine interest group for medical ethics, bringing together transgender patients and doctors, as well as experts in LGBTQ health law issues. (See the upcoming July issue of The Pulse for a more detailed story of this symposium.)

We are also excited to be exploring partnerships with New Orleans Advocates for GLBT Elders (NOAGE) and the LGBT Community Center of New Orleans so that our members will be out in the community sharing their knowledge and expertise with the greater New Orleans area.


Office of Diversity and Community Engagement 

By Alison Augustus-Wallace, Ph.D.

The SOM Office of Diversity & Community Engagement’s (ODCE) mission and programmatic role are to facilitate the priorities of the SOM’s strategic goals by: 1) Promoting the embracement of diversity and cultural competency by faculty, staff, house staff, and student body; and 2) Expanding outreach initiatives to develop and strengthen mutually beneficial relationships with community partners.

In fulfilling our mission, our core programs support and advance a holistic admissions framework that translates into the development and construction of a diverse student community. In turn, this strengthens the quality of the learning environment. We are proud that our programs continue to promote diverse health profession pipeline initiatives which serve to enhance both interest and access to careers in medicine among communities that are disadvantaged and/or underrepresented. This fosters a culture of inclusion and engagement for all members of our institution’s educational community. The office has formal educational partnerships with all health professions schools within the LSU Health Sciences Center, as well as the New Orleans Public Schools, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), Predominantly Black Institutions in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, other Louisiana undergraduate institutions, and community physician organizations.

As part of our ongoing and continuous pipeline activities to develop a more competitive applicant pool, the ODCE facilitates a range of structured and unstructured activities. ODCE programmatic activities include: K-12 Science Clubs; Career Awareness Days; after-school science and math programs for middle school students; Summer Science Research Programs for middle and high school students; year-round medical school applicant counseling (including mock interview experiences and personal statement development); incoming medical students’ Pre-Matriculation program; USMLE, Step I review resources; and Residency Counseling for LSU Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC) medical students. Additionally, ODCE is currently in the process of restoring its pre-medical advisor workshops for collegiate academic counselors, faculty, and administrators, to provide them with adequate information about LSUHSC programs for advising their students and to further strengthen their communication with LSUHSC.

As of September 2016, the newest programmatic activity scheduled for the dates of May 30th through July 7, 2017, is the Schools of Medicine, Dentistry, and Public Health, Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP). SHPEP is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and is a collaboration between our Schools of Medicine, Dentistry, and Public Health, with support from our Center for Interprofessional Education & Collaborative Practice, and our HBCU partner Xavier University at Louisiana, College of Pharmacy. This program is a free summer enrichment program designed to improve access to information and resources for college students attending either four-year or community college institutions, who are interested in the health professions. The goal of SHPEP is to support the academic and career development of underrepresented/underserved, and/or rural, and/or disadvantaged students in the health professions, thereby preparing them for a successful application and matriculation to health professions schools. Formerly known as the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program, the SHPEP was expanded in 2016 to include a broader scope of health professions. For additional information on SHPEP, please refer to, as well as our LSUHSC site webpage,

Want to become a Faculty Assembly Delegate? 

By Jennifer Lentz, Ph.D. and Peter Winsauer, Ph.D.

In preparation for this year’s Faculty Assembly elections, and to encourage you to consider becoming a Delegate, we thought we would tell you a little about the Faculty Assembly. The School of Medicine (SOM) Faculty Assembly (FA) is composed of 34 Delegates that are elected by the full-time clinical and basic science faculty within the SOM. The Delegates serve the SOM faculty by representing them as a collective voice to both the Administration of the SOM and the entire LSU Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC). To accomplish this purpose, the Assembly has regularly scheduled meetings and works closely with the Dean of the SOM. Assembly meetings are open to all faculty of the SOM and approved minutes are posted on the FA website.

This year, the Faculty Assembly has been working on a number of initiatives, including disseminating the outcomes from the Faculty Forward survey, preparing for the upcoming LCME reaccreditation, updating the faculty on the changes to the medical school curriculum, and charity fundraising. We have also been engaged in discussions with the LSUHSC Chancellor, the Dean of the SOM, the Faculty Senate, and others regarding salary compression, capital outlay projects on campus, diversity, housekeeping issues, and fitness center hours.  To learn more about our activities and a current roster of Delegates, please visit our website at

This year we will be electing 10 (6 Clinical and 4 Basic Science) Delegates to serve a 3-year term beginning on July 1. All full-time faculty members of any rank (Professor to Instructor) and in either a tenure or non-tenure track are eligible. Faculty who are currently holding an administrative position such as Dean, Associate Dean, Department Head, or Center Director are not eligible.

As of this year, becoming a FA Delegate is a 2-step process that starts with a self-nomination, or you asking someone you feel would be a good Delegate to self nominate.  After the call for nominations has been completed, all eligible faculty will be placed on a ballot for election by electronic vote. All faculty will then vote to fill the 10 available positions. The 10 nominees receiving the most votes will become Delegates. Given that there are relatively few positions available each year, you may want to inform your colleagues about your interest in serving so that they can vote for you, especially if you are from a small department!

The Faculty Assembly will request nominations in April, and the election will be held in May. If you think you might be interested in serving as a Delegate, any current Delegate would be happy to answer your questions, or join us at the next monthly meeting held the first Thursday of every month.


Association for Women in Science

By Jane Eason, Ph.D., P.T.

The Association for Women in Science (AWIS) is a national organization and is the largest multi-discipline organization for women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), dedicated to achieving equity and full participation of women in all disciplines and across all employment sectors.  AWIS reaches more than 15,000 professionals with members and chapters nationwide.

The AWIS Southern Louisiana (AWIS-SL) chapter is dedicated to empowering women in science and technology by providing a platform for networking opportunities and career development programs, and by promoting an interest in science among girls and young women.  The AWIS Southern Louisiana chapter welcomes all persons from the Southern Louisiana region interested in furthering the careers of women in science.

The cost to join the national organization is $150.00 annually as a professional member and $65.00 annual for junior members (students, postdocs).  To join only the AWIS-SL chapter, professional and junior member dues are $25.00 annually and $10.00 annually for students. Additional donations to support our outreach efforts are always welcome.

Local Executive Board members are:

  • Jane Eason (School of Allied Health Professionals), President
  • Tekeda Ferguson (School of Public Health), Secretary
  • Allison Augustus-Wallace (School of Medicine), Treasurer
  • Angela Amedee (School of Medicine), Past-President
  • Crescent Combe (School of Medicine) – Post-Doc Representative
  • Adrienne McGinn (School of Graduate Studies) – Graduate Student Representative

Additionally, AWIS-SL has several committees: Community Service Outreach (co-chaired by Donna Neumann and Sonia Gasparini), Education and Mentoring Outreach (co-chaired by Martha Cuccia and Elizabeth Levitsky), and the Outstanding Young Scientist Travel Award (chaired by Lisa Harrison-Bernard).

Following is a list of events AWIS members have participated in over the last year:  

  • We had a booth at the Girl Scout B.I.G event at Southeastern Louisiana State University campus to promote STEM to the Girl Scouts.
  • Every year in September, we host a “Painting with a Purpose” as a fund-raiser to help raise money for AWIS-SL Community and Education Outreach Efforts. This is always a lot of fun.
  • We participated in Breast Cancer Awareness Month with Women in Medicine by hosting the guest speaker, organizing Pink Out Day on campus, setting up a survivor board outside the cafeteria and organizing a team from LSUHSC to run in the Race for the Cure.
  • In November, Dr. Janis Letourneau provided a seminar on “Mentoring, Coaching and Sponsorship”.
  • Dr. Mary Coleman provided a seminar on “The Art of Healthy Feedback” in February.
  • We found some time to socialize and celebrated Thanksgiving with a potluck lunch, hosted a networking event at Pearl Wine in October, and gathered to celebrate the holidays at Bayou Wine Garden in December.

The local chapter, with additional support from the Dean of the School of Medicine, also sponsors the AWIS-SL/LSUHSC Outstanding Young Scientist Travel Award and this year’s awardee is Crescent Combe.  Congratulations Crescent!

If anyone is interested in learning more about us, please contact anyone on the Executive Committee; we’d be glad to provide more information.