Trauma-Informed Care of Sexual Assault Survivors Curriculum

Knowledge of Practice :

  • 2.5: Apply principles of social behavioral sciences to provision of patient care, including assessment of the impact of psychosocial and cultural influence on health, disease, care-seeking, care compliance, and barrier to and attitude toward care.
  • 2.6: Contribute to the creation, dissemination, application, and translation of new health care knowledge and practices.

Every 98 seconds, someone in America is sexually assaulted (1). This traumatic event can cause a negative sequela, impacting these individuals’ overall quality of life. Men and women who experience sexual assault are more likely to have frequent headaches, chronic pain and difficulty with sleeping, leading to their need for care by a medical provider (2). The response of the healthcare system to these traumatic events needs to be strengthened in order to facilitate short and long-term healing of sexual assault survivors. One way to enhance this response is by training healthcare providers.

During my first year of medical school, I went to an event hosted by the organization, Women in Medicine, that was a longitudinal para-curriculum about trauma-informed care of sexual assault survivors. As I walked into the classroom, I couldn’t believe how many students were in attendance. I felt a sense of encouragement as I realized how many people truly cared enough about this issue to take time out of their already busy day to listen, learn, and discuss this issue. As I sat in silence that first day, afraid to speak up for fear of my past creeping out, I listened to how supportive my peers were being. Their support gave me the courage to continue on my path to healing by using my personal and professional experiences to establish a permanent, longitudinal curriculum on trauma-informed care of sexual assault survivors at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.

With collaboration with other medical students and several faculty and staff we began by assessing the LSI curriculum to determine where these new curricular components would fit best to strengthen the already existing curriculum. Next, we enlisted the proper resources. Both myself and other other medical students were trained patient advocates for the Sexual Assault Response Network of Central Ohio (SARNCO), and so we contacted their college campus representative to help us ascertain the most important information for future physicians. Additionally, we contacted sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs) to have further insight into the medical-legal aspects of caring for sexual assault survivors. Furthermore, with the assistance of the Center of Family Planning and Healing, we were able to establish a panel of patients who felt comfortable coming forward and sharing their story with medical students. Through interdisciplinary collaboration, we were able to create an e-module, patient panel, and a team based learning (TBL) exercise to provide longitudinal education.


I am grateful for the supportive nature of the faculty at OSU because with their help myself and the help of my fellow students, we were able to make a positive and lasting impact on the medical education at this institution. Not only were we able to have a positive impact at our home institution, but also nationally. We presented our work at the Generalist in Medical Education National Annual Convention in 2018, and then later hosted a workshop at the Academy for Professionalism and Healthcare in 2019. Sharing what we have done and what we have learned is imperative for the growth of this education at other medical schools, which in turn will strengthen the care physicians can provide their patients nationwide.

Seven years ago I was the patient trying to tell my physician my story, but unfortunately I was never truly heard. As a medical student I have made it my goal to ensure future physicians are trained to listened and help heal survivors of sexual assault. As I get closer to the end of my medical school career, I feel comforted knowing that the work I have done these past four years may one day help a survivor heal.


  1. Establish a similar curriculum at my next institution in order to further education about trauma informed care.
    • Start by assessing current curriculum and resources at the institution during my intern year.
    • Finding other faculty, staff, and students who would be interested in assisting me with this endeavor.
    • Collaborate with faculty, staff, residents, and students to find out how to best correct knowledge gaps in medical student curriculum about trauma informed care of sexual assault survivors.
    • During my second year of residency, start implementing the new curricular developments.
    • During the third year of residency, analyze the effectiveness and impact of the curricular change.
    • During the fourth year of residency, document findings and publish in a journal or present at a conference, so that other institutions can implement similar curriculum.
  2. Ensure that the clinics at my new institution have all the necessary resources to provide sexual assault survivors with long-term care: physically, mentally, and emotionally.
    • Talk to faculty and staff at the clinics and assess their knowledge of available resources.
    • Contact the local rape crisis center for resources in the area.
    • Ensure that all clinics have tangible resources that all of the staff are aware of and are able to locate for patients when needed.
    • I plan to accomplish this during my first year of residency.
  3. Educate my fellow residents about the misconceptions about rape and about rape culture.
    • Ask for one of the journal club meetings to be about trauma informed care of sexual assault survivors.
    • Recommend reading the article, Psychological consequences of sexual assault, by Mason et al. However, if a newer article comes out at a later date, then I would suggest reading the latest article.
    • This can be done anytime during residency.


  1. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Crime Victimization Survey, 2010-2014 (2015).
  2. Black, M. C., Basile, K. C., Breiding, M. J., Smith, S .G., Walters, M. L., Merrick, M. T., Stevens, M. R. (2011). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 summary report. Retrieved from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control: