AMSA's 2015 Annual Convention
Join Us Next Spring
in Washington, DC!

February 26 - March 1, 2015 

Sexual Health Scholars Program

Sexual Health LogoAn Online Learning Community
and Course

Fall 2013 - Spring 2014

AMSA firmly believes in comprehensive sexual education for people throughout the life cycle. As such, it is crucial that medical students be taught about sexual health and sexual dysfunction in order to effectively treat and teach their patients. An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported 43% of women and 31% of men experience sexual problems. Sexual problems included problems with desire, arousal, orgasm, or pain and were often secondary to other medical conditions. Left untreated, sexual problems often have an association with decreased quality of life, depression, interpersonal conflicts, and frequently lead to patient noncompliance with medications. Despite the high prevalence of sexual dysfunction among our patients, many physicians feel inadequately prepared to manage sexual problems and support healthy sexuality. In fact, our program has found that 85% of medical students report receiving less than 5 hours of medical education dedicated to sexual health.

In 2009, AMSA launched the Sexual Health Scholars Program to begin to address the lack of knowledge and skills training of American medical students in sexual health. We are pleased to announce that we are now taking applications to participate in the fifth annual Sexual Health Scholars Program. The online course, which will run October - March, will include lectures by experts, discussions among participants, various media, and collaborative projects. We hope this program will help participants gain knowledge and skills toward encouraging healthy sexualities and managing sexual concerns, and that participants will use these tools to teach others.


Participation fee is $30. Applicants who are selected to participate will be expected to pay this fee in full by November 1, 2013. Program fees go towards AMSA Academy. AMSA will work with you to help you obtain funding from your school and other organizations if you need assistance with the tuition.

While not mandatory, we also highly encourage all participants to attend the AMSA National Convention, March 6-9, 2014, in New Orleans, as there will be activities for SHSP participants and amazing Gender & Sexuality programming. This will also may be the only time you can meet your fellow scholars in person!

Please contact us if you are worried about the financial obligations; we do not want to turn anyone away for financial reasons.

Selection Criteria:

The Sexual Health Scholars will be a small and versatile group of passionate individuals with different interests, experiences, and levels of knowledge of sexual health.

  • Selection of participants is based on merit and not ability to pay.
  • Availability: We are especially interested in scholars who are both motivated to fully participate in this rigorous academic program and who have availability in their schedule to do so. We believe that participants will benefit most from this intensive approach, but we also recognize that scholars have other important and competing academic and extracurricular interests and activities.
  • Team Player: A desire to engage with and contribute to the group is essential. The program will foster an online community for scholars to work together and with experts in order to gain new perspectives, knowledge, and clinical skills.
  • Innovation in Education: Scholars who have the curiosity to ask why the status quo exists and the creativity to challenge it in productive ways. Scholars who want to share their newfound knowledge with their colleagues.
  • School Participation: In the past, we have accepted groups of 4 or more students from a given medical school to participate together as a group, completing small group sessions in person. If 4 or more students apply from your school, you may be accepted as a group, as we believe this provides an enhanced SHSP experience. Applying as part of a group of students at a single school may enhance your chances of acceptance, as well as your program experience, so you should encourage other students from your school to apply along with you if you can.
  • We do NOT ask for experience in sexual health work or education. It's great if you have it, great if you don't. We are more interested in your enthusiasm, willingness to learn, and time commitment.

Learning Objectives:

By the end of this institute, participants will be able to:


  • Develop a network of peers in academic institutions across the world to draw on to build partnerships to further the cause of sexual health
  • Compare, contrast, and evaluate different models of human sexuality and sexual response
  • Describe common sexual concerns and basic treatment options
  • Recognize the historical context of sexuality research
  • Describe important aspects of sexual health needs of different populations, including, but not limited to, different age groups, LGBT individuals, and patients with chronic illnesses


  • Conduct and appropriately tailor sexual history interviews to different age groups
  • Screen for sexual assault and domestic violence
  • Recognize when a physician can treat an illness and when to refer to a specialist
  • Teach fellow students about sexual health concepts through problem-based learning
  • Create a sexual health project that can be utilized by other students interested in presenting a sexual health topic to classmates and others


  • Analyze one's own biases related to sexuality and examine ways to confront, work with, and/or overcome these biases
  • Examine the interplay between relationships, love, and family
  • Examine certain viewpoints of sex and sexuality within various religions
  • Examine the role of health care providers in treating sexual problems and promoting healthy sexualities
  • Examine the role of medical education in preparing physicians to treat sexual problems and promote health sexualities

Tentative Curriculum

Our curriculum is primarily based on an extensive curriculum recently developed by the Center for Excellence in Sexual Health at Morehouse School of Medicine. Below is the tentative list of topics to be covered this year.

  • Let’s Talk About Sex: Sexuality Values, Models, and Language
  • The Birds and the Bees: Sexual Anatomy and Physiology
  • Discussion of Gender and Sexuality
  • Sexuality Across the Lifespan: Children and Adolescents
  • Sexuality Across the Lifespan: Older Adults
  • Common Sexual Concerns and Treatments Part 1
  • Common Sexual Concerns and Treatments Part 2
  • Let’s Teach About Sex: Sexual Health in Medical Education
  • Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Queer Health
  • Transgender Health
  • What’s Love Got to Do With It?: Relationships, Body Image, and Sexual Self-Esteem
  • Sexual Abuse and Intimate Partner Violence
  • Sexuality, Disability, and Illness
  • That’s So Kinky: The Spectrum of Sexuality
  • Oh God!: Sexuality and Religion
  • You Can See the Doctor Now: Sexual Health Counseling
  • Final Project Presentations

Participant Expectations

  • Scholars are expected to participate in all sessions. If a scholar cannot attend one of the classes, the scholar is expected to inform the program coordinators of the expected absence. Scholars who miss more than 2 small group sessions or more than 4 sessions overall will be asked to leave the program.
  • Scholars are asked to remain open-minded and respectful of other views. Scholars are asked to actively participate in all discussions.
  • Scholars are expected to complete all homework assignments before class begins. Homework may include articles, media clips, short reflective pieces, etc.
  • Scholars are expected to complete a final project related to sexual health in the community or sexual health education
  • Student participants will be highly encouraged to attend the AMSA National Convention, March 6-9, 2014, in New Orleans. We are planning some activities at the convention, as this may be the only time during the program in which SHSP participants meet in person.


Application Dates

  • Applications are due: September 15
    In some cases, follow up phone interviews will be conducted the following week.
    Accepted applicants will be notified by email. You will have three days to decide whether to participate in the program.

    Program Dates 

    • The program will run from September 24, 2013 to February 25, 2014.
    • The course generally alternates between large group sessions and small group sessions, each 2 hours.
    • Large group sessions will be held on Tuesdays, 9-11 PM eastern/6-8 PM pacific. 
    • Small group sessions will be scheduled according to the availability of your small group.

    Learning Platform

    • The course will largely be conducted via webinar, an online-based learning platform. You will need access to either phone or audio on your computer.
    • We would prefer if you have access to a computer video camera. Many computers come equipped and they are also often available in your school's media resource center.


    • Homework will usually consist of articles, media clips, short story, or reflection.

    Final Project

    • Scholars will complete a final project that will advocate for improved sexual health in their community or improved sexual health education in medicine. Final projects may involve anything from giving a lecture to your home medical school to share your knowledge on a topic of your choice, to more community-based action and advocacy efforts surrounding sexual health. Examples of excellent final projects by previous scholars are posted here

    Course credit

    • Several scholars have received elective credit from their schools for this course. While AMSA unfortunately cannot grant elective credit at this time, we are happy to support you with documentation that will aid you as you seek elective credit.
    • Upon completion of the program, scholars will have the option of getting a letter of completion sent to their medical school dean on their behalf. Whether scholars receive course credit or not, this letter can help highlight the honor of completing this nationally competitive program with your medical school administration, and is often included in the formal Dean’s Letters written by schools for students when applying for residency.

    Selected Scholars

    Selected Applicants May Pay Their Tuition Fees Here

    For More Information

    Questions regarding the application process should be directed to:

    Jason Domogauer

    SHSP Program Director
    Kyle Ragins

    SHSP Program Director

    Final Projects from our Sexual Health Scholars

    View a sampling of the diverse projects presented by Sexual Health Scholars. We hope you enjoy learning from and using the information presented in these interactive activities, powerpoints, brochures, case-based exercises, etc.

    Sexual Health at Your School

    If you'd like to adapt this sexual health curriculum (in whole or part) for an elective or course at your school, email us at

    Improve the Sexual Health Curriculum at Your School

    SHSP In the News

    • Sexual Health Scholars Chosen
      Read page 2 of AMSA's December 2010 Focus for details.
    • The New Physician: Sex Effects
      The article discusses how medical students and physicians can help address the mishandling of sexual medicine. It points out that AMSA’s Sexual Health Scholars Program has also sought to benefit physicians-in-training, particularly through helping students get over fears and build their comfort levels in activities like role playing.
    • Sexual Health Curriculum Focuses on Varieties of Sexual Experience 
      Article from AMSA's 60th Annual Convention reports on scholar Sara Thorp’s groundbreaking final project for SHSP course about bondage, discipline, sadism, and masochism (BDSM).
    • Broad sex education may help doctors to treat the community (of the AMSA Conference)
      Article describes Sara Thorp’s presentation about her final project for the course, which explores BDSM and draws conclusions about sexual health education in medical schools.
    • Finding My Achilles' Heel  
      A personal reflection on doctors’ lack of comfort with sexual issues which concludes with the importance of expanding sex education for medical students. It commends SHSP on its work: “This is a huge step forward for the medical community”.
    • Sexuality Education for ALL Medical Students 
      A blog entry describing a provoking conversation between dentist and patient that comes to the conclusion that all medical providers should be better trained in the field of sexual health. It refers to SHSP as a “step in the right direction”.
    • Med Students: We Want More Sex Ed! 
      A blog comment which points out AMSA’s response to that call: SHSP!