A Hyperkalemia Role Play with Transgender Actors Helps Physicians Learn How to Interact with a Wide Array of Patients

No two patients a doctor sees will ever be exactly alike. They all will have different symptoms, allergies, and conditions, in addition to different backgrounds, personalities, and identities.

While you can’t simulate every type of interaction a doctor may have with a patient during their training process, role plays can help them prepare for a wide variety of scenarios.

The New York School of Medicine recently conducted one of these scenarios for their trainees. They were one of the first schools to use transgender actors as model patients.

The goal was for the trainees to learn how to provide more sensitive care, a goal developed from patient’s reports of feeling uncomfortable or discriminated against during doctor’s appointments. Here was the scenario set up for the trainees:

They had a transgender woman act as a standardized patient in a common outpatient appointment. In the situation, the woman was taking a hormone to reduce masculinization in addition to a feminizing hormone.

Additionally, she had hypertention and hyperkalemia. Hyperkalemia in simple terms, means very high levels of potassium in the blood and it’s a very rare, and extremely dangerous condition.

Lastly, the woman was inquiring about a procedure for removing her testicles.

The trainees discussed with the patient her various treatment options for treating both her hypertension and hyperkalemia in addition to the other procedures she wanted done.

The actress rated each trainee on the ability to have this discussion while being courteous and mindful of her identity. In this particular study, most trainees received a good score. They felt the study was positive because it helped trainees become more comfortable interacting with different types of patients.

However, it also became clear that more practice is needed as most clinicians did not directly address the patient’s gender identity treatment possibilities.

Conclusions of this study were that the role play was beneficial, but that more training is definitely needed for physicians to be able to interact properly with any patient who walks through the door.

There cannot be a gap in care and therefore transgender patients need to be included in future studies.

Source: Pixabay

Read more about this study on Science Daily by clicking here and on NYU Langone here.

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