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Female genital cutting (FGC), also called female genital mutilation, is defined as “all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs whether for cultural, religious, or other nontherapeutic reasons.” FGC can have significant health consequences, including multiple physical and psychological complications, throughout the life course. Despite violating numerous human rights and existing legal prohibitions, the practice continues. In the United States, FGC is becoming increasingly prevalent, however, physicians are not routinely trained to care for these patients. Despite the evidence of the need, there is a woeful lack of training regarding FGC in undergraduate, graduate, and continuing medical education programs. Furthermore, many health care providers (HCPs) are unaware of their mandatory reporting obligations regarding FGC under current state laws. There are no established educational competencies or training guidelines for incorporating FGC into all levels of medical education. This article establishes the need to develop competencies and underscores that models exist for undertaking this work. It also aims to engender dialog about FGC education and calls for launching an initiative to develop educational competencies to train HCPs about FGC. By integrating comprehensive, evidence-based education and training at all levels of medical education, HCPs will be able to provide high-quality, team-based, culturally sensitive care to the hundreds of thousands of affected women and girls in the United States, and work to prevent the practice from being carried out on girls who are at risk but have not yet been cut.


This article was originally published in the Journal of Women's Health, available at



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