Introduction: Healthcare practitioners at Veterans Administration hospitals and outpatient clinics are seeing an increasing number of female veterans of all ages. The number of female veterans has more than doubled over the last 20 years. Often these practitioners do not feel comfortable addressing women’s health issues and may lack the confidence and skills to safely address these concerns in a sensitive manner. This resource was developed for use within the context of a 1-day workshop for primary care providers affiliated with the Veterans Administration in Dayton, Ohio. The workshop was designed to enhancer providers’ skills in motivational interviewing and discussing sensitive topics such as urinary incontinence, sexually transmitted diseases, sexual dysfunction, and military sexual trauma with their female veterans. Methods: This resource provides lecture material on motivational interviewing and military sexual trauma as well as four well-developed standardized patient cases covering the aforementioned topics. After the initial lectures, each learner has the opportunity to work in small groups to practice their history-taking and counseling skills with standardized patients. During each standardized patient encounter the learner has the opportunity to take a time-out and seek feedback and assistance from their colleagues in the small group to get through any sticking points they faced in the moment. They then return to the encounter, work through the problem, and finish with feedback from the standardized patient, which reinforces good behaviors/communication skills and addresses areas where the patient felt uncomfortable. Results: A postevent survey determined that more than 85% of the attendees had never worked with standardized patients and were initially quite apprehensive. However, postevent evaluations were extremely positive. All attendees stated there was a high probability of changing their practice, with 97% of participants stating that this activity helped to clarify or reinforce principles and concepts underlying current handling of patients. One hundred percent of participants said they would attend a similar program again. Discussion: Given the positive feedback received during initial implementation, this activity was included in a funded innovation grant to be repeated in different parts of the Veterans Integrated Services Network in Ohio.
By the end of this session, learners will be able to:
- Identify the special healthcare needs of female veterans.
- Demonstrate the ability to use empathic Motivational Interviewing (MI) techniques to address specific women’s health concerns.
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