Two GW MSIV Students Pilot a Trauma-Informed Care Curriculum with their Peers

Emmalee Barrett and Jeffrey Jang

From left to right: Emmalee Barrett, MSIV/MPH and Jeffrey Jang, MSIV

Two medical students at the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS), Emmalee Barrett, MSIV/MPH, and Jeffrey Jang, MSIV, are pioneering a new curriculum for medical students this spring, under the mentorship of GW Assistant Professor of Medicine Gavin Truong, MD. The pair is currently piloting the curriculum with their peers in the Global Health Scholarly Concentration (GHSC) with hopes to permanently embed the curriculum into GW’s medical education, as well as incorporate into residency training programs in the future.

The GHSC is an extracurricular program managed through the Office of International Medicine Programs (IMP), designed to increase awareness and sensitivity among SMHS medical students about international health systems, regional diseases, national culture, and teach how to assess the specific health needs of countries at various stages of development. Over the duration of the four-year program, students attend educational sessions hosted by GW faculty members and global health experts. They also complete both a non-clinical and a clinical experience abroad, and, in their final year, students develop a scholarly project on a global health topic of their choosing.

Barrett and Jang’s scholarly project bridges the gap between trauma-informed care (TIC) training and treatment for refugees and asylum seekers. While some residency programs in the United States currently provide TIC training, it’s often not tailored towards caring for refugees and asylum seekers. Because refugees and asylum seekers endure unique and complex traumatic experiences before seeking health care in asylum countries, this pilot curriculum provides a TIC framework for future physicians to follow.

According to Barrett and Jang, “the project seeks to address an important aspect of immigrant health care that has the potential to enhance medical school training in delivering compassionate and patient-centered health care.”

The curriculum is being presented to GHSC first-year students over the course of two sessions, the first of which was conducted by Barrett and Jang in February 2024. The first session provided important foundational context to medical students on the definitions of refugee and asylum seekers and the circumstances leading up to displacement. Attendees learned common symptoms of mental health distress caused by trauma and engaged in discussions on barriers that refugees and asylum seekers experience while accessing care. The subsequent lecture, scheduled for early April, will feature an expert panel of guest speakers discussing the intricacies of medicine for asylum-seekers who often are not offered insurance in host countries.

If the Institutional Review Board (IRB) approves the project, the team will be able to expand their data collection before presenting to a broader audience of GW SMHS faculty. Barrett and Jang reflect on their hopes for the curriculum to expand outside of the pilot sessions and share, “We believe the content will directly allow future physicians to provide care to a population that has historically faced numerous barriers to health care.”

IMP is proud of Barrett, Jang, and all of our hardworking GHSC participants’ work to advance global health equity. GW medical students can apply to the GHSC during the fall of their first year.

For more information on the GHSC and other IMP programs, contact us at or visit our website.