AMWA's Physicians Against Trafficking of Humans
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PATH's webpage features an introduction to human trafficking and healthcare, click here to watch informative videos and learn more from the site.

Interested in learning more about PATH leadership and involvement? Here are some ideas of how to get started with our welcome packet.

AMWA Annual Conference 

To celebrate AMWA's 103rd Conference, PATH is sharing a two part series for March to highlight all that our members have accomplished this year and foster new connections during and after the conference. 

Part I:
  • Interview with Dr. Ressinger
  • SUSTAIN Honolulu
  • AMWA-PATH Spotlight
Part I:
  • Human Trafficking and Addiction
  • Student Spotlight: SUSTAIN presentations
If you or someone you know has PATH updates to share, (e.g. success after SUSTAIN Training) e-mail Michelle Lyman to be included in future newsletters.


The most recent SUSTAIN training was held in Honolului, Hawaii and hosted 28 attendees - social work, medical students, nurses, NPs, physicians.

Two community partners - Kathryn Xian from The Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery, and Veronica Lamb from Susannah Wesley Community Center - spoke at the training about what they do in the Honolulu community; and materials were supplied by Renata Del Moral, Victim Assistant Coordinator from the Department of Homeland Security.  Community partner slides were supplied by Dr. Nicole Littenberg from the Pacific Survivor Center and HEAL Trafficking.

Training was greatly assisted by Dr. Mary Tschann and Dr. Shandhini Raidoo (UH-JABSOM and Kapi'olani Medical Center ObGyn), as well as 10 outstanding JABSOM medical students.

Coming to a City Near You
After a very successful first year, the SUSTAIN series is expanding to several cities around the United States. See below for dates and locations for 2018.

    Philadelphia, PA: Mar 25, 2018
    Houston, TX: May 26, 2018

Now SUSTAIN events will have an additional option to earn free continuing medical education (CME) credits by participating in the events. To register for the Philadelphia event, click here.

If you are interested in attending any of these SUSTAIN events please e-mail Michelle Lyman at for more information on registration and travel scholarships.

About the Newsletter
This is a monthly series in research and advocacy news summaries created by the PATH residents and medical students. Newsletters will feature brief breakdowns on recent scholarly publications and policy changes as well as highlighting PATH member efforts and upcoming events.

We want to share your success!
E-mail your projects and events to the editors to be featured in upcoming newsletters

Interview with Mary Reissinger, Psy D.

Dr. Reissinger is a Psychology Postdoctoral Fellow specializing in human trafficking at the Baylor College of Medicine’s Human Trafficking Program at Ben Taub. She agreed to be interviewed and share her experience providing mental health services to trafficked persons.

"From the start, I was drawn to this position because it afforded me the opportunity to fight against a traumatic, criminal, and egregious human rights violation by helping to protect a particularly vulnerable and marginalized group of people. For the past ten years I have provided mental health treatment to diverse, underserved populations in both a clinical health and forensic capacity; I have long since felt compelled to serve my community and advocate for the rights of others."

"On an average day you will find me working on the Ben Taub inpatient psychiatric unit administering evaluations or conducting individual, trauma-informed psychotherapy sessions. On other days I can be found in the emergency center responding to referrals to screen a patient for human trafficking. I also attend meetings and trainings in the community, collect data for future research, and counsel survivors in our outpatient clinic." 

"Overall, my position involves human trafficking identification, treatment, training, advocacy, community outreach, and research.  My institution is about to roll-out a pilot study analyzing our newly developed human trafficking e-learning training module for medical professionals within the Harris Health System. Using a Randomized Control Trial, we plan to measure the efficacy of this training module prior to its dissemination system-wide.

"I maintain a relationship with multiple partner organizations city-wide to connect survivors with numerous community-based resources to aid in their recovery; one such resource, is our program’s very own outpatient mental health clinic for survivors of trafficking. Constant efforts are being made by our program to form additional partnerships, conceptualize more research endeavors, and discover (or create) new avenues to better meet the needs of this underserved and highly vulnerable population."

"Research indicates that due to the insidious power and control tactics utilized by traffickers and the various environmental stressors trafficked people endure, one would expect to treat a wide spectrum of mental health symptoms (i.e., depressive, anxious, paranoid, substance use, and trauma or stress-related disorders. Psychological research has consistently shown that the therapeutic alliance is the primary impetus for promoting change behavior in patients."

"My advice to future physicians would be to prioritize establishing a relationship based on trust, respect, and transparency. When you suspect someone may have been victimized (e.g. assaulted, molested, or exploited), just begin by engaging them in casual, non-threatening conversation and build up to carefully (and respectfully) asking them a few screening questions. Be prepared to provide help by having your resources on hand." 

"Generally, aim to reduce, or eliminate, factors which contribute to their risk relevant behavior, instability, or level of vulnerability; strive to promote increased safety, stability, and self-determination in the life of the patient. Most importantly, remain steadfast and trust your clinical judgment and intuition. Human trafficking operations purposefully hide in plain sight; traffickers are savvy, and victims often feel totally helpless. Recognize the red flags; respond to the situation, then refer the trafficked person to either a hotline, specialist, or an anti-trafficking organization."

PATH Spotlight: Shelley Fang
Shelley Fang is a medical at Baylor School of Medicine and is passionate about research on human trafficking and healthcare. She has worked on two manuscripts all while completing medical school coursework. She described some of her research:

"The work I do with my research team is largely based around the simple principle that human trafficking victims often encounter healthcare professionals but are very rarely identified. Because they’re not identified, providers cannot use the resources available to them (i.e., social work, nonprofits, etc.) to intervene on behalf of these patients who may very dearly want to escape their situation. Our research focuses on identifying patients through new means such as analyzing tattoo trends in known trafficking victims (in addition to traditional self-reported history which may sometimes be unreliable and/or impossible to obtain) and showing medical professionals how trafficked patients may present and be treated when identified in inpatient settings. As such, we strive to raise awareness that trafficked patients often utilize healthcare resources, and more likely than not, they are slipping through the cracks and being returned to what are often extremely dangerous situations. In doing so, we hope that medical professionals can become better stewards of victimized patients."
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