Medical students assist the evaluating clinician during the forensic medical or psychological evaluation and play an integral role in drafting the affidavit.
Please complete the form below to register as a medical student volunteer.
1. What is the DGSOM Asylum Clinic?
We are a group of students and clinicians working to provide forensic medical evaluations that provide expert evidence to support individual’s claims of asylum. An individual may claim legal asylum if they have a credible fear of harm if they were to return to their home country. We are a Physicians for Human Rights affiliated clinic, which means we have the backing of one of the largest and most well-respected human rights organizations in the world. We also work in areas of research, policy and advocacy and are currently developing continuity of care programs for our clients.
2. What is the student’s role?
For each evaluation, a medical student will be paired with a clinician and accompany them to conduct the evaluation. Evaluations are scheduled at times that are mutually agreed upon by the clinician, client, and student involved on the case. Evaluations last on average of two to three hours and can be located at our designated clinical space in Westwood after 5PM on weekdays or anytime on weekends (usually 9AM-12PM on Saturday), or another location based on client preference. Some evaluations also will take place in detention facilities, such as Adelanto.
During the evaluation, the student volunteer will work with the clinician to illicit a full history, take notes, and document photographic evidence. Following the evaluation, the student will draft an affidavit to be reviewed by the clinician. A well-written affidavit draft is the most important aspect of the student's involvement in the evaluation process, as it makes the clinician's role much easier and provides important experience to students in synthesizing client history and medical/physical exam findings. The final affidavit is submitted in court as evidence to support the client's case.
3. How can I perform cases and how many evaluations can I expect to work on in a year?
To perform cases, student volunteers must be first trained at an official PHR training. As we are just getting started, it is hard to predict what our clinic capacity will be. Moving forward, our case load will be dependent on the number of cases we receive and the number of volunteers that sign up. We anticipate student volunteers being able to do about 1-3 cases in the next year. However, we want to be fully transparent and make it clear that we cannot make any guarantees about the specific number of cases you will be able to perform. We’re learning as we go and hope that you can both bear with us as we do so and be a part of this unique opportunity to get involved with something just as it is starting out!
4. What is the time commitment for each case?
Each case can require a time commitment of about 8 hours. Each case requires you to prepare for the case (1-2 hours), attend the evaluation (2-3 hours) and draft and edit the affidavit with the help of the evaluating clinicians (3-4 hours). The clinic will support you with training and resources throughout this entire process.