Nursing: Human Trafficking in the United States

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About the Course

Health care personnel are on the front lines of the fight against human trafficking. Nurses and other health care personnel must be alert to the often-overlooked signs of trafficking in their patients and become anti-trafficking advocates for patients and on a systems level. This course provides a sensitive review of the issue of abuse in human trafficking and how it affects patients and their families. The course presents an introduction into this complex crime, focusing on sex and labor trafficking, the common signs, symptoms, and conditions that occur in people who have been trafficked, and insights into the facts surrounding human trafficking and relevant health risks for individuals. Care of these individuals is as unique as the persons themselves. Research on the needs and common patterns of symptoms makes it possible to outline recommendations for the prevention and identification of trafficking and help healthcare professionals identify the interventions needed to care for these individuals.  Additionally, the course lists national resources that provide vital services to patients who have been trafficked and makes recommendations for patient and staff safety when addressing these potentially volatile scenarios.

Learning Outcomes:
Upon completion of this course, the learner will be able to:
  • Describe the incidence and scope of human trafficking in the US. 
  • Define human trafficking.
  • Describe the different types of trafficking. 
  • List risk factors and warning signs for those who may become or who are victims of human trafficking.
  • Identify the elements of trafficking.
  • Explain the process of human trafficking.
  • Explain the assessment process for human trafficking.
  • Discuss intervention strategies to approach trafficking victims and determine treatment.
  • Identify reporting agencies and community resources for human trafficking victims.
  • Describe the elements of a protocol of clinical guidelines.
  • Discuss strategies to prevent human trafficking.

About the Authors: 

Dr. Michelle Lyman, MD, MPH, is a Family Medicine resident working at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. She graduated from the University of South Florida College of Medicine in 2019 with a dual degree in medicine and a Master of Public Health specializing in Epidemiology. Dr. Lyman also earned a graduate certificate through the Scholarly Excellence Leadership Experience and Collaborative Training (SELECT) program.  During medical school, she worked with the Physicians Against Trafficking of Humans (PATH) through the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA), as well as HEAL Trafficking to promote improved medical education on trafficking. Dr. Lyman has presented her work on simulation-based curriculum at several national conferences and has designed several inaugural training programs at her medical school that continue to this day. Dr. Lyman’s current training goals are to learn broad spectrum care to better serve vulnerable populations and foster community health.

Dr. Hanni Stoklosa, MD, MPH, is the Executive Director of HEAL Trafficking and an emergency physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), with appointments at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. She is the Director of the Global Women's Health Fellowship at BWH, Connors Center. Dr. Stoklosa is an internationally recognized expert, advocate, researcher, and speaker on the wellbeing of trafficking survivors in the U.S. and internationally through a public health lens. She has advised the United Nations, International Organization for Migration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Department of State, and the National Academy of Medicine on issues of human trafficking and has testified as an expert witness multiple times before the U.S. Congress. Moreover, she has conducted research on trafficking and persons facing the most significant social, economic, and health challenges in diverse settings, including Australia, China, Egypt, Guatemala, India, Liberia, Nepal, Kazakhstan, the Philippines, South Sudan, Taiwan, and Thailand. Among other accolades, Dr. Stoklosa has been honored with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Women's Health Emerging Leader award, the Harvard Medical School Dean's Faculty Community Service Award, has been named as an Aspen Health Innovator and National Academy of Medicine Emerging Leader. Her anti-trafficking work has been featured by the New York Times, National Public Radio, Fortune, Glamour, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, STAT News, and Marketplace. Dr. Stoklosa published the first textbook addressing the public health response to trafficking, "Human Trafficking Is a Public Health Issue, A Paradigm Expansion in the United States."

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