Alumni Spotlight - Jessica McMillan

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Jessica McMillan

There are more than 300 MFP alumni throughout the nation that provide culturally competent and linguistically appropriate direct care.  The MFP alumni also educate, conduct research, provide healthcare services and develop health policy in urban and rural clinical settings, community and outreach programs, and academia with the intent of eliminating mental health and substance use disparities and enhancing well-being among all people, including ethnic minority populations.  Each month the MFP will showcase one alumnus’ amazing nursing journey and how their MFP experience helped them pursue their dream.

Featured Alumna of the Minority Fellowship Program-Youth

Jessica McMillan, DNP, MSN, RN, APRN, PMHNP-BC

Jessica McMillan, DNP, MSN, RN, APRN, PMHNP-BC, is a graduate of the Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) program at Vanderbilt School of Nursing (VUSN). She began her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from VUSN in the Fall of 2016, where her research focused on the “Utilization of Psychiatric Healthcare Services in Clients Living with HIV”. McMillan also works part-time as a PMHNP serving underserved communities.

She is a published author with a background in investigating the adverse effects of peer victimization in children. She served as the President of the Black Student Nurses Organization at VUSN and a Student Advisor for the Diversity Advisory Board for the Vice Chancellor of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at Vanderbilt University. McMillan is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honor Society and the American Nurses Association. McMillan is also a graduate of the Minority Fellowship Program-Youth.

Dr. McMillan responds to questions regarding her interest in nursing and research on the utilization of psychiatric healthcare practices and HIV.

Q: What motivated you to enter the field of psychiatric mental health nursing?

McMillan: I have always been interested in psychology. I wanted to start a career that was focused on diminishing the stigma of mental disorders and alleviating the health disparity gap that impacts minority populations. After learning more about advanced practice nursing and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNPs) during my undergraduate career, I realized this would be the perfect opportunity for me to address these very important issues.

Q: How has your experience working as the President of the Black Student Nurses Organization at Vanderbilt University and as Student Advisor for the Diversity Advisory Board for the Vice Chancellor of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at Vanderbilt University helped to inform your views about diversity in the nursing workforce?

McMillan: Serving as Student Advisor for the Diversity Advisory Board for the Vice Chancellor of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at Vanderbilt University, and serving as President of the Black Student Nurses Organization at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing reaffirmed my views on diversity in the nursing workforce. I believe that representation is important, especially in the healthcare field. I believe that diversity in leadership also leads to diversity in thought. In my opinion, systems that prioritize diversity and inclusion are better work environments and seek to provide optimal, culturally-sensitive care to diverse populations.

Q: It would be great to know more about your doctoral scholarly project. HIV has been with us for several decades now - how have the psychiatric healthcare needs of clients living with HIV evolved?

McMillan: According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2015, over 1.1 million individuals were living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). The CDC reports that there were over 39,000 new HIV diagnoses in 2016. According to the CDC, HIV disproportionately impacts African-American and Hispanic/Latino populations. The American Psychological Association reports that individuals with HIV have a higher prevalence for serious mental illness (SMI) than those who do not have HIV. Research shows that individuals with HIV and a SMI have higher risks of poor health outcomes. Furthermore, research has shown that poor adherence to healthcare appointments in clients living with HIV, has been associated with a quicker progression of HIV and increased likelihood of mortality. Studies have shown that an important factor associated with improved health outcomes for clients living with HIV is retention to healthcare services.

My Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Scholarly Project entitled “Utilization of Psychiatric Healthcare Services in Clients Living with HIV”, sought to examine whether a risk predictive tool (RPT) could be utilized to predict psychiatric appointment non-adherence in an outpatient medical home. The observational study found that the RPT was effective in predicting that medium and high-risk clients were less likely to attend their next psychiatric appointment, compared to low-risk clients. The RPT utilized in my study was previously utilized in other studies but was found to also be effective in predicting psychiatric appointment adherence. In the future, I hope to replicate this study in other clinical settings and potentially utilize the RPT to identify at-risk clients and provide resources to increase the likelihood of psychiatric appointment adherence.

Q: What are some of your other research interests and future directions for your work?

McMillan: I am very interested in exploring how patient-provider race concordance impacts patient satisfaction. I would also like to implement quality improvement initiatives that work to improve the overall patient experience. In addition, I would like to create a provider toolkit that focuses on providing culturally sensitive care to African-American clients. As a new clinician, I look forward to ways that I can expand upon the field of advanced practice nursing and hope to diversify the types of roles that PMHNPs and DNP-prepared nurses fulfill.

Q: Please explain your interest in ‘how patient-provider race concordance impacts patient satisfaction,’ and its broader implication for the patient experience.

McMillan: Since beginning nursing school several years ago, I developed an interest in the overall patient experience, particularly patient health outcomes and patient satisfaction. Research shows an association between patient-provider race concordance and patient satisfaction. Patient-provider race concordance refers to the client and the provider sharing the same racial background. Other studies have investigated whether patient-provider race concordance impacts communication, collaboration, and health outcomes. I am very interested in investigating these trends in clinical settings and working to improve the overall patient experience.