Dr. Marielle A. Combs, a registered nurse and Wayne Community College nursing instructor, was selected to present to two national audiences on her research related to human trafficking.
Combs conducted the research, titled “Human Trafficking: Empowering Healthcare Providers and Community Partners as Advocates for Victims,” for her doctoral project. She recently earned a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from Gardner-Webb University (G-WU).
She was invited to present a poster on the research at the NurseTim Nuts and Bolts Conference for Nurse Educators this summer. That national conference is designed for nurse educators and has a special focus on active learning and assessment.
The fall, an article on the research that Combs co-authored with Dr. Tracy Arnold, director of the G-WU School of Nursing, was published in the Journal of Holistic Nursing. The official journal of the American Holistic Nurses Association, it is a peer-reviewed quarterly journal with a focus on advancing the science and practice of holistic nursing and healthcare.
In the two pieces, Combs sought to “empower healthcare providers and community volunteers serving potential victims of human trafficking in traditional and nontraditional settings with human trafficking identification training,” she wrote.
Combs also wanted to “guide professional nurses in the holistic approach to caring for potential victims of human trafficking.” She promoted the use of a “validated human trafficking screening tool and the timely provision of resources.”
“Human trafficking is a public health crisis and a growing worldwide crime exploiting approximately 40.3 million victims,” Combs explained.
Combs said that human trafficking had been a personal interest for a year or two before she went back to school to obtain a doctoral degree and she was pleased that she was able to parlay that passion into her required project.
She wanted to know how health care providers could assist trafficking victims. The “Trafficking Victim Identification Tool” is a central feature of her work.
Her goal is to use what she learned to teach health professionals and community volunteers how to identify victims and apply holistic healing practices. She has already worked with local recovery programs to educate them on victim identification to facilitate rescue and hopes to volunteer as a trainer with a statewide organization.
Health care professionals are in a good position to encounter trafficked individuals. “Sixty-two percent of trafficked persons are in the health care system,” Combs said.
“They are among us,” Combs said. “Wayne County has every single one of the risk factors.”