Human Trafficking and Medical Education
U.S. medical schools are beginning to recognize the importance of teaching students about human trafficking.
Third year student at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Catherine Coughlin, shares her experience introducing anti-trafficking curriculum at her school.
"During my first year of medical school, I learned that most sex trafficking victims encounter a healthcare provider while they are trafficked. Discovering this incredible opportunity for intervention motivated me to spend the summer between my first and second year of medical school writing a curriculum to teach medical students how to recognize victims of sex trafficking.
I spent time with a my mentor and physician expert in sex trafficking, Kanani Titchen, and a lawyer who defends sex trafficking survivors, Lori Cohen, melding medicine and law, statistics and stories. Dr. Titchen and I were invited to teach the curriculum to my medical school class for the past two years!
For months after giving the lecture, I have had fellow students approaching me with questions and sharing how they realize they may have been seeing trafficking victims in their clinical practice. My classmates and I can assist in identifying sex trafficking victims as we practice medicine, and we can teach our future colleagues to recognize the signs, too.
Human trafficking affects hundreds of thousands of people in this country, and we can join the fight against human trafficking as physicians. My experience has affirmed that advocacy and medicine are deeply intertwined, and I vow to continue the fight against sex trafficking for the rest of my career."
Another example of anti-trafficking medical education is the use of simulation, using standardized patient actors to teach students in their clinical years how to respond with trauma-informed care. To read more about the simulation based curriculum PATH member Michelle Lyman worked on, click here.
Do you have a success story to share? We want to hear more about how you have created change. E-mail the editors with 1-2 short paragraphs and any pictures that you would like to share. Look out for future newsletters with examples of PATH members raising awareness of human trafficking.