Education at OHSU

Trauma-Informed Educational Practices

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The Trauma-Informed Educational Practices Mission

Our mission is to transform nursing education by building a community of educators and scholars engaged in implementing and evaluating trauma-informed educational practice (TIEP). TIEP grounds nursing in an equitable, inclusive, and culturally responsive pedagogical approach using the six guiding principles of Trauma-Informed Care.


Trauma-informed education is a mindset, an acceptance of diversity including background, knowledge, skills, and life experiences; and an understanding that some of those life experiences may be varied and include trauma. Adverse childhood experiences like poverty, neglect, and exposure to violence, including discrimination and racism, can induce overwhelming stress. Chronic stress and trauma can impact the brain’s cognitive and memory centers, derailing learning and triggering behaviors such as fight, flight, freeze, or fawn.

Beginning to understand trauma, recognizing it, and responding to it requires a mindset shift focused on providing a structure to support students, faculty, and staff in creating a learning environment free of discrimination and trauma, which fosters resilience. Trauma-informed practices work for everyone, regardless of background and experiences. Everyone at some point will encounter adversity, and trauma-informed educational practices can be seen as restorative of former and current trauma and/or preparation for the future by building resilience. 

The profound antidote to addressing trauma is human relationships, and if these relationships are positive they can buffer the effects of stress and trauma. We have the power to decide whether we want our systems and institutions to be a place of trauma and re-trauma or a place of healing.

Achieving health equity requires a collective effort across and within healthcare disciplines. The 2020-2030 Future of Nursing report outlined the role of nurse educators and the learning environment in addressing social determinants of health, equity, and education. If unaddressed these determinants can undermine our ability to achieve health equity. 

Using a trauma-informed approach allows us to examine the influences of historic and systemic racism and discrimination that lead to inequities in the classroom. Students are exposed to racism and discrimination in and outside of the classroom which can be compounded by intergenerational poverty and trauma. A trauma-informed approach provides us a framework and centers equity as we adjust to changes to our individual and systemic practices, pedagogy, and policies. 

  • Build a trauma-informed lens: this is a journey, not a destination.
  • It is not enough to offer students remediation courses; what is required is a transformation in teaching and grading practices. This requires that we begin to accept that our practices are inequitable and work to change our practices, pedagogy, and policies.
  • Embed safety and trust in all our work: this requires that we build positive relationships with students to facilitate learning and mitigate stress and the impact of current or past trauma. Keep in mind as educators that fear of failure, anxiety, and self-doubt reduce cognitive and learning abilities.
  • Focus on culturally responsive practices: this requires that we are aware of and acknowledge historical and oppressive systems that have disproportionally affected racial, ethnic, and other systemically excluded groups. Our curriculum should be multicultural with positive cultural representations and provide evidence of the resilience of communities. Failing to honor and value students’ background and experiences in the classroom is another form of violence and can lead to trauma or re-trauma.

This online platform provides information in various forms including articles, books, podcasts, videos and websites. A great resource and a collaborative partner for this work is Trauma-Informed Oregon (TIO). TIO is a non-profit organization that has helped to train healthcare providers in trauma-informed care and serves as a resource for trauma-informed efforts across the state. A strong focus for trauma-informed efforts is wellness, and TIO dedicates a webpage with multiple resources on this concept of wellness. We would encourage you to learn more about viewing wellness through a trauma-informed lens.

Click through the following tabs to explore and learn more about trauma-informed educational practices.

The development of this online platform was funded by the OHSU Racial Equity and Inclusion grant opportunity through the OHSU Center for Diversity and Inclusion in partnership with the OHSU Office of Educational Improvement and Innovation.

We aim to strengthen healthcare education by supporting faculty and staff with the desire to implement or evaluate trauma-informed educational practices. Please contact us if you would like more information about faculty and staff training or changes in your institution.

Rana Najjar_FR

Rana Halabi Najjar, Ph.D., RN, CPNP

Associate Professor OHSU School of Nursing – Monmouth Pronouns: she, her, هي

Email Rana
Headshot of Francis Rojina smiling with an ocean background

Francis Alicia Rojina, M.P.H.

Student Inclusion & Success Coordinator OHSU School of Nursing – Klamath Falls Pronouns: she, her, ella

Email Francis

Acknowledgement

I would like to thank the following individuals for their continued support of this work:

  • Dean Susan Bakewell-Sachs
  • Dr. Hector Olvera Alvarez
  • Dr. Joanne Noone
  • Dr. Karen Reifenstein
  • Doria Thiele
  • Dr. Graciela Vidal
  • Sarah Jacobs
  • Sarah Keeney
  • Nadira Rizkallah
  • Dr. Angie Docherty
  • Dr. Mandy Davis
  • Dr. Kupiri W. Ackerman-Barger

I would also like to thank Francis Rojina for working with me to set up this online platform. Without her, it would just be a bunch of ideas on sticky notes!

Equity-Centered Trauma-Informed Approach

The following diagram describes the Equity-Centered Trauma-Informed Approach to educational practice. The diagram illustrates the four phases of developing a trauma-informed lens which are centered in equity and justice. Remember, this is a journey, not a destination. The ongoing process of developing a trauma-informed lens should reflect in practice, pedagogy, and policy at OHSU to ensure safety, trust, peer support, collaboration, empowerment, and cultural responsiveness among the OHSU community. It takes all of these components to light the way towards becoming a trauma-informed space.

Equity-Centered Trauma-Informed Approach Diagram
Adapted from Missouri Model: A Developmental Framework for Trauma Informed Approaches, MO Dept. of Mental Health and Partners (2014)

Equity-Centered Trauma-Informed Education

by Alex Shevrin Venet

Image of the front cover of Venet's book, "Equity-Centered Trauma-Informed Education"

In this book, Venet shares a systems approach to resorting to justice and equity in the classrooms, schools, and communities. The book has five parts: bring equity to the center, adopt a universal approach, rethink your role as an educator, move from mindset to systems change, and change the world from the inside your classroom. Venet writes candidly about how our educational systems are inequitable, and cause trauma or re-trauma. Informative concepts and content include:

  • Principles of Equity-Centered Trauma-Informed Education
  • Developing our lens (practice), transforming our classrooms (pedagogy), and shifting the larger systems (policy)
  • Adopt a Universal Approach using the four proactive priorities (predictability, flexibility, connection, and empowerment)
  • Tools to examine current practices
  • Examine the curriculum, disrupt harmful narratives
  • Activism and action as healing

The author includes many resources and references that are valuable to educators and administrators interested in advancing social justice and equity in education.

Venet AS. Equity-Centered Trauma-Informed Education. First edition. W.W. Norton & Company; 2021.

Training for Change: Transforming Systems to Be Trauma-Informed, Culturally Responsive, and Neuroscientifically Focused

by Dr. Alicia Moreland-Capuia

Front cover of Dr. Alicia Moreland-Capuia book on Training for Change: Transforming Systems to Be Trauma-Informed, Culturally Responsive, and Neuroscientifically Focused

Training for Change provides an overview of the neurobiology of fear, brain development, trauma, substance use, bias, racism, and environmental factors that impact healthy brain development. Dr. Alicia Moreland-Capuia shares case studies to elucidate the concepts and provide recommendations to facilitate a trauma-informed approach to changing systems. The book includes 12 chapters on topics such as:

  • Developing brain and trauma
  • Intersection of fear, trauma, aggression, and a path to healing
  • Labeling theory: the power of words and implicit bias
  • Restorative justice
  • Self-care
  • Change and hope of systems change

A must-read for any organization moving on the path to being trauma-informed.

Moreland-Capuia A. Training for Change: Transforming Systems to Be Trauma-Informed, Culturally Responsive, and Neuroscientifically Focused. Springer Nature Switzerland; 2019.

Examining the Intersections of Equity, Trauma-Informed Pedagogy, and Student Learning
How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime
How Neuroscience Is Changing What We Know about Learning

Standards of Practice for Trauma-Informed Care in Educational Settings

Guidelines were developed by Trauma-Informed Oregon through the Defending Childhood Initiative to provide educational institutions guidance in implementing trauma-informed educational practice. We encourage institutional implementation starting with the development of a strategic plan based on the needs of students, faculty, and staff within the institutions. The language in this document focuses on K-12 programs, but can be adapted for any educational institution.

The Standards of Practice for Trauma-Informed Care in Educational Settings Tool

Trauma Informed Care Screening Tool

Trauma Informed Oregon has also developed a screening tool that outlines ways an organization may advance in sequential movement from trauma aware (phase 1) to trauma informed (phase 4).

Using the Trauma Informed Care Screening Tool

2022-2023 Book Club: Discussing Equity-Centered Trauma-Informed Education

Flyer for 2022-2023 Book Club Discussing Equity-Centered Trauma-Informed Education

A joint collaborative activity between OHSU School of Nursing and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing. The book club discussions will focus on the book, Equity-Centered Trauma-Informed Education, by Alex Shervin Venet. Learn more about the author and book by visiting https://unconditionallearning.org.

Book Club Session Dates:

  • October 17th
  • November 14th
  • February 13th
  • March 20th (with special guest, author Alex Venet)

All sessions will be held via Zoom from 12:00 - 1:30 pm (PST). More information about registration to come in September 2022.