According to Dr. Rebecca Mueller, as the transgender population grows, the need for quality healthcare has become more evident. Working in the health care field as an educator and a nurse practitioner, Mueller is aware of the medical needs this population is experiencing and is poised to implement change.
Professor Mueller was recently awarded a $4,790 grant from the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) to fund a research project titled "Evaluation of the impact of a multimodal educational intensive on nurse practitioner students' knowledge, skills, and attitudes towards care of people who are transgender." She also received a $1,000 grant from Sigma Theta Tau (nursing honor society).
"The purpose of this project is to provide Neumann's adult-gerontology nurse practitioner students with evidence-based content specific to transgender health, so they can provide inclusive, person-centered care to individuals who are transgender and non-binary," Mueller explains.
Through her research and personal knowledge of the transgender population, Mueller has become aware that transgender individuals are often marginalized in healthcare and are, therefore, of concern to nurse practitioners.
"Everyone deserves good health care, and you have to love everybody for who they are. NPs who deliver informed care to transgender patients are better positioned to achieve positive healthcare outcomes for this population," she says.
Mueller contends that there is a lack of transgender-related education in nursing curricula, and on the national level, nursing students receive only 2.12 hours of LGBTQ content in their curricula. She hopes that through this research project, Neumann nursing students in the master’s degree program will better understand how to medically treat transgender individuals. And she plans to expand this project's results into undergraduate nursing classes at NU and other universities.
"I maintain my clinical practice one day a week, working in the student health center at Swarthmore College, which has been a large inspiration for this project, as I care for a very diverse population. There is a population of students seeking care and (who) might be on hormones or use different pronouns," Mueller says.
The research project is slated to begin in the fall during the NUR641 clinical course for adult-gerontology nurse practitioner students. During the November 14 class, Mueller will present a panel of actors to portray transgender individuals. There will also be two transgender individuals who will share their experiences with healthcare and explain what they envision for improvements to their healthcare options.
After the panel concludes, students will meet with the transgender actors presenting various health disorders. They will practice asking appropriate questions to the transgender actors regarding how they identify, what body parts they have, and who they are sexually active with. The actors will give the students feedback after the screenings.
"It's a more inclusive environment now than it was years ago, so people are feeling freer to express themselves. This is a wave that's coming to healthcare, and if we're not open to it, we're going to miss the mark," Mueller says.
Mueller plans to film the project so she can create a webinar that will be used to educate students on the best practices for the care of transgender patients. She will also present her findings from the research project at a future AANP national conference.
Mueller is seeking individuals who are transgender or non-binary to serve as patients/actors.