UMSN Nurse Practitioner Students Join Efforts to Help Human Trafficking Victims

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The students traveled to Ethiopia for on-the-ground planning of a comprehensive clinic.

The Michigan group with law faculty at Addis Ababa University“It’s our hope that this clinic will make a difference in the lives of human trafficking victims,” says Anna Kern, a University of Michigan School of Nursing (UMSN) nurse practitioner student. “Right now, many victims end up exactly where they started because there isn’t a comprehensive model in place to help them move to the next phase. They need support with health care, school, reestablishing relationships with family, ongoing mental support services, and job integration.”

Kern and Dana Beck, both students in UMSN’s Primary Care Family Nurse Practitioner master’s program, have joined the U-M Law School’s efforts aimed at starting a clinic for human trafficking victims in Ethiopia. The project will model successful clinics currently operating in Ann Arbor and Mexico. This spring, Kern and Beck traveled with two law students and five Ross School of Business students to Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia for groundwork.

“It was really a fact-finding trip,” says Beck, who is a graduate of UMSN’s Second Career Program.  "We needed to see what resources they already have and how they are currently managing the issue. We were able to tour hospitals and speak with people from the Ministry of Health.”

“It’s really important to have the Ethiopians involved from the beginning to make sure what we’re doing is culturally appropriate and Kern and Beck working group at the Forum on Sustainable Childhood Empowerment.sustainable,” says Kern. “I think there will be a continuous partnership, but they will be the ones actually providing care in the long run, and that’s a good thing.”

Kern and Beck say they see great value in nurses being part of the interdisciplinary team. “Nursing brings a holistic angle,” says Beck. “We have a good understanding of the potential psychological and physical manifestations of trauma both acute and chronic.”

Kern and Beck say the law, business, and nursing students had different viewpoints at times but found in-depth discussions to be extremely valuable.  “Because nurses and lawyers tend to work on the ground level, and have direct contact with clients, we are trained to understand what clients need at that specific moment in time,” says Kern. “The business students offered a wide lens, and helped all of us look at the scope of the problem and brainstorm a sustainable solution. In turn, we helped them in understanding where the pitfalls of their theoretical plans might fall. It wasn’t always easy, but it was good.”

Beck and Kern at Ghandi Memorial HospitalBoth Beck and Kern plan to do independent studies this summer focused on the clinic. “It will include research and writing related to the comprehensive situational analysis for the Triple R (Recognize, Respond, and Reintegrate) project,” says Beck. “I will also be researching mental health resources in Addis as well as strategies and models that have been used in similar contexts. This directly relates to the Primary Care Family Nurse Practitioner program as it is all research related to health promotion and risk reduction in resource poor settings.”

“It’s really rare to be among the first people who are lifting the project up and getting it started,” says Kern. “Opportunities like this are a large reason why I picked the University of Michigan. It’s a chance to be a part of something bigger than you.”

The project is part of a greater effort between U-M and Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia. Learn more about EM-PACE.