Second-year medical students Matt Pius and Priya Gor helped plan Sex Week 1998. "The program encouraged us to appreciate the humanity of the art of medicine," says Gor.
The final day begins with lectures on sexual boundaries and sexual attraction between patient and physician. A panel then talks about sexual health care issues in their practices. Gregory Broderick, MD, a urologist from the University of Pennsylvania, describes the newest treatments for erectile dysfunction and early ejaculation.
Jane Cross, MD, daughter of Sex Week founder Richard Cross, tells of the heartbreaking issues, such as HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancy, she encounters in her inner-city pediatric practice. And Nancy Phillips, MD, assistant professor, Department of Obstetrics/ Gynecology at RWJMS, tells of the sexual concerns of the menopausal and elderly women in her practice.
The final video is, "Talking About Sex: A Guide for Families," which offers suggestions for discussing sexuality with 9- to 13-year-olds.
The Richard J. Cross Award for distinguished contribution to sexuality is then presented to Susan Wilson, MS:Ed, the executive coordinator of The Network for Family Life Education at Rutgers University. It is a coalition of agencies that supports family life education, including human sexuality, in schools and communities. The Network publishes two nationally distributed newsletters: SEX, etc., written by and for teens, and Family Life Matters, for educators and policy makers.
The week ends with a lecture on sexual relationships in love. As in the past, the course leaves a lasting impression on those who attend. A booklet celebrating the 25-year-old program contains letters from former students. A physician who participated in the first Sex Week writes that, for a time, she was the only female physician who treated police officers at a metropolitan station. "Frequently, concerns about sexual issues complicated matters. Sexually transmitted diseases, sexual dysfunction and homosexuality were issues the officers brought to me. Nothing fazed or embarrassed me, a feature my patients appreciated."
A male student from the class of 1978 writes: "Because of the course, today I feel more comfortable discussing sexual matters with my elderly patients." And from a student in the class of 1987: "Your course helped me appreciate the breadth of human sexual behavior that should be considered 'normal.' I began to understand how central sexuality is to our own lives...."
This year's students feel much the same. "This course was great," says one student. "It really enlightened me. The panels were great because they humanize the experience." Another says, "I have developed an appreciation for the variety of sexually related problems out there, and feel relatively competent to deal with them."
"To me, the course is all about opening your mind," says another future physician. "Your reactions to things teach you something about yourself." Another attendee found the segment on spinal cord injuries and sex the most valuable. "I never would have thought about the problems a handicapped person might have with sex," she says. "And the information translates to other diseases, like arthritis and heart disease."
"I think everyone likes talking about sex," says Matt Pius, one of six RWJMS students who helped plan the event. "Some students have never talked with anyone about sex before. If this is their first time, it's not behind closed doors in hushed voices." Pius adds that if students feel any revulsion, it's better to experience it during Sex Week, rather than in front of patients.
And one student, smiling broadly, says, "A week of sex for credit? Who can