9:15-10:15 a.m. TODAY, Room 311EFGH; 12:15-1:15 p.m. today, Room W209ABC
Suzanne Harrison, MD, FAAFP, is professor and family medicine education director in the Department of Family Medicine & Rural Health at the Florida State University College of Medicine. She also is president-elect of the American Medical Women’s Association.
About 10 years ago, she met two young women from Central America who, after being promised jobs as nannies, were sold for sex.
“My interaction with these survivors came after their escape, and hearing their stories made me realize that I may have cared for patients in similar dire circumstances and not recognized the signs,” said Harrison, who has been an advocate for victims of interpersonal violence and child abuse since the start of her career.
In 2011, the AMWA created an anti-trafficking task force: Physicians Against the Trafficking of Humans, of which Harrison is the founding chair.
Harrison will close the knowledge gap for family physicians about human trafficking, showing how to identify victims in a health care setting. Her presentation covers the key indicators and risk factors that should alert clinicians to the possibility of trafficking.
The session also will center on how to utilize the concept of trauma-informed care to build trust with the patient from the beginning. Harrison also will talk about resources related to trafficking for both physicians and patients.
WHY THIS SESSION MATTERS TO YOU
Family physicians have training to care for patients in their social context, Harrison said. This ability to focus on the patient rather than the disease also provides the skills needed to recognize the signs of trafficking since these patients often are more complex and less willing to share their stories.
“It is important for all of us to be aware that those affected may also fear retribution from traffickers or negative interactions with law enforcement, which creates a situation that requires an individualized and empathic approach,” she said.
Family physicians do not need to think in terms of “rescuing” their patients, but should strive to offer a safe place to share while being a link to essential resources if patients want to escape their current situation. Attendees should have more confidence in their ability to spot human trafficking, ask the correct questions, and respond it ways that comfort patients while identifying the proper outside resources.
“This session serves as an introduction to human trafficking,” she said. “There are more in-depth training sessions available through many organizations.”