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ASU professor advocates for human trafficking education in nursing schools

Amanda Goodman

Taking her message on the road, Arizona State University College of Nursing and Health Innovation Assistant Professor Samantha Calvin spoke at the 14th Annual Human Trafficking and Social Justice Conference in Ohio last month.

The event brings together researchers, service providers, politicians, advocates and students from around the globe in order to learn from one another and work together on real-world solutions to this horrific problem.

In her presentation, Calvin focused on human trafficking in the clinic setting, red flags to look for, questions to ask and what to do if someone is identified.

“What we’re finding is that health professionals do not feel comfortable identifying and treating someone who has been human trafficked,” Calvin said.  

It is a topic Calvin is fiercely passionate about. Her current research focuses on female adolescent sex trafficking and it’s the subject matter for a new innovative course she teaches at the college, HCR 394: Fundamentals of Human Trafficking.

Calvin says it’s the first human trafficking class that she’s aware of available in a nursing school, a point she brought up at the conference.

“Many of the courses that exist right now, exist in schools of social work which is great, we need courses like HCR 394 in social work,” she said.

But, it’s not enough. Research has shown there’s an obvious gap when it comes to the clinical setting, which Calvin says turns into a missed opportunities.

“Even though a lot of these victims seek medical care they are not being identified and end up remaining in the cycle of human trafficking,” Calvin said.

Her hope is that by sharing her research and message at the conference other nursing schools around the country will take notice of what’s happening with her course at ASU and add it to their nursing curriculums.

This was Calvin's second time attending but first time speaking, she says this event in particular is incredibly important, “it’s the only conference of its size and inclusiveness in the country, because of this conference connections are made, research is advanced and practices are improved.”