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A teaching intervention by Andrea Landis and Bethany Cieslowski in the School of Nursing suggests that experiential learning opportunities are fundamental to learning about gender-affirming care.
LGBTQ2+ people face notable health disparities and nurses can help improve care and access by providing inclusive, non-judgmental, gender-affirming care. Nursing, medicine, and public health programs, including George Mason University, are adopting gender-affirming care as part of the curriculum. As defined by the World Health Organization, gender-affirming health care attends to transgender individuals' hormonal, surgical, medical, mental, and social health needs while respectfully affirming their gender identity.
A new teaching intervention from Assistant Professor Andrea Landis and VR Simulation Coordinator Bethany Cieslowski in the College of Health and Human Services suggests that experiential learning opportunities are fundamental to learning key concepts of gender-affirming care. Additionally, repeated practice in a safe environment helped students better understand proficient gender-affirming care. Landis and Cieslowski used gaming vignettes to teach nursing students about gender-affirming care.
"The call for action to improve care for LGBTQ2+ people requires nurse educators to introduce curriculum that integrates the barriers to care with the effects of bias and discrimination in the patient/clinician relationship,” said Landis. “Using gaming vignettes and simulations can be a great way to introduce students to gender-affirming care and help them approach scenarios from the point of the patient."
The results found that including gender-affirming care in the curriculum increases inclusive practices and the visibility of LGBTQ2+ people; this affirms previous studies’ findings. In a post-teaching intervention survey, students stated that visuals from gaming vignettes were helpful in understanding the concept of gender-affirming care and providing it. Students left the lesson better understanding the importance of pronoun and name use and respecting the patient.
The short simulation vignettes covered using chosen name and pronouns during care, the effects of bias and discrimination in the patient/clinician relationship, and the role of electronic health records in gender-affirming care.
“The simulations demonstrated how these practices contribute to a trust relationship if established at the start of patient care visits,” said Cieslowski. “The scenarios highlighted barriers to care for LGBTQ2+ patients and exemplified action steps a health care professional could take to partner with the patient.”
An Innovative Teaching Modality to Promote Proficient Gender-Affirming Care was published in August 2022 in Clinical Simulation in Nursing.