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Pride month member spotlight: Dr. Kira Newman

Dr. Newman talks about her experience serving, and being part of, the LGBTQIA+ community.
Dr. Kira Newman Pride Month
Dr. Kira Newman Pride Month

Kira Newman, MD, PhD, works in the division of gastroenterology at the University of Michigan. Dr. Newman studies gastrointestinal infections, inflammatory bowel disease and health outcomes of sexual and gender minority individuals. She serves on AGA’s women’s and trainee and early career committees and on the executive board of Rainbows in Gastro. Dr. Newman completed her MD/PhD at Emory University, Internal Medicine, residency at the University of Washington, and gastroenterology fellowship at the University of Michigan.

Q: Please introduce yourself and your area of contribution to the LGBTQIA+ community of physicians and patients.

I am a physician-scientist with a background in epidemiology and microbiome research. I am involved in advocacy and research about the health and wellbeing of sexual and gender minority individuals. Through this, I have helped build a community of researchers, trainees and patient advocates interested in LGBTQIA+ health in GI. As a gay, gender non-conforming person, I’ve spoken about my experiences in medical training and practice for a variety of audiences.

Q: What have been your major accomplishments and what obstacles have you faced?

One of my major accomplishments has been forming a collaborative research group of researchers from across the U.S. and Canada working on improving our understanding and improving the experiences and health outcomes of LGBTQIA+ individuals with inflammatory bowel disease. Members of the LGBTQ+ IBD Collaborative Group have launched multiple successful research projects, and a paper by our group was the featured cover article for the May 2023 issue of Gastroenterology. This group is helping overcome multiple obstacles we face in research on sexual and gender minority health. First, as a collaborative group, we provide mutual support with subject-area expertise, diverse perspectives and connections outside of our individual institutions, all of which helps promote high-quality research. Second, we are able to conduct appropriately powered research on minority populations through multi-center studies. Third, the collaborative includes members at all stages of career and training and has near-peer and more traditional mentoring for people interested in this area.

Q: What do you envision for the future of the LGBTQIA+ physician workforce and for patient care over the next five years?

The number of individuals who identify as LGBTQIA+ is increasing over time. There is also increasing understanding of some of the unique health care needs faced by this population. LGBTQIA+ physicians and allies are often at the front of advocating for changes to help better serve these patients. I anticipate that as legislatures in some states attempt to limit the ability of physicians to provide appropriate and compassionate care we will see increased activism and demands for explicit protections of sexual and gender minority people. I also expect that institutions known for providing respectful patient-centered care for LGBTQIA+ people will become more attractive to these patients and others.

Q: What inspirational advice would you offer to LGBTQIA+ trainees, medical residents and students? 

You can be yourself and be a physician. If you care about and work hard for your patients, nearly everyone — teachers, colleagues and patients — will respect you. But every so often, someone will not. In those moments, I remember that their lack of respect isn’t about me but is about them and their biases. Surround yourself with people you can talk to when this happens and who will remind you that you are more than enough.

Q: What advice regarding empathetic care would you like to share with the field of GI? 

Our job is not for us to live the lives of our patients but to help them live the lives that they want. We need to ask about what is important to our patients, listen and then remember and respect that in our partnerships with them.

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