Occupational Therapy Students’ Perceived Preparedness to Work with Transgender Clients
Document Type (Journals)
In order to be a successful practitioner, an occupational therapist must have proper knowledge for treating diverse populations, including clients who are transgender. However, many occupational therapy (OT) programs do not teach content that is specific to the transgender population. This study utilized a complementary mixed-methods design to determine how prepared occupational therapy students perceived themselves to be for working with transgender clients. Entry-level masters and doctoral level occupational therapy students from accredited OT programs across the United States that had completed at least their first Level II fieldwork were recruited to participate. Eighty-five occupational therapy students completed the quantitative survey, and a subsequent six students participated in the phone interview for the qualitative portion of the study. Nearly all of the participants reported that their educators prepared them “not at all” or “some” to work with clients who are transgender. The majority of the participants reported having had contact with members of the transgender community. However, only about a third of participants reported having any transgender content in their courses. The themes that emerged from the qualitative data were limited knowledge about the topic, patient as the educator, self-directed training, and awareness of barriers the transgender community faces. These findings suggest that academic accreditation standards need to be updated to include marginalized populations, including transgender content, to decrease barriers and improve overall care provided to clients.
Meredith Rosol, OTD, OTR/L is an occupational therapist working in a skilled nursing facility in Jacksonville, FL. Her clinical and scholarly interests include LGBTQ+ healthcare disparities, sensory processing disorder, misophonia, and OT education. She is a graduate from Creighton University's OT program.
Karissa Rogers, OTD, OTR/L is an occupational therapist working within the public schools of Washington County, Nebraska. She is passionate about supporting people, policies, and programs that improve the lives of at-risk youth. Additionally, she is an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community in addressing healthcare disparities. She is a graduate from Creighton University's OT program.
Raigan Borsh, OTD, OTR/L is an occupational therapist working in acute care in Kansas City, Missouri. She is passionate about LGBTQ+ advocacy, OT's role in addressing mental health, and advancing OT education. She is a graduate from Creighton University's OT program.
Rachel Pavlinec, OTD, OTR/L is an occupational therapy neurological fellow at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. While pursuing a neurological specialty, she is also passionate about LGBTQ+ advocacy in healthcare, safe patient handling and mobility, and workplace ergonomics. She is a graduate from Creighton University's OT program.
Dr. Marion Russell, OTD, MOTR/L, SCFES is an assistant professor in Creighton University’s Occupational Therapy Program. She has presented nationally and internationally on health disparities of transgender individuals. Her work focuses on enteral feeding’s impact on family mealtime routine, pediatric feeding and eating behavior disorders, health disparities of transgender clients, and curriculum development.
Asa Russell, MS, NCC holds a degree in mental health counseling and currently works on scientific editing and translation. His past work centered around providing services for transgender children, adults, and families. His scholarly work focuses on health disparities experienced by transgender individuals and chronic illness. He has presented nationally and internationally.
Declaration of Interest
The authors report no declaration of interest.
Rosol, M., Rogers, K., Borsh, R., Pavlinec, R., Russell, M., & Russell, A. N. (2022). Occupational Therapy Students’ Perceived Preparedness to Work with Transgender Clients. Journal of Occupational Therapy Education, 6 (3). https://doi.org/10.26681/jote.2022.060302
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