Training Overview

DATE:  Saturday 09/28/2019 

TIME: 8:30 am - 4:30 pm

ADDRESS: UCLA Geffen Hall B36

Thank you for your interest in this training session on conducting forensic medical evaluations for individuals seeking asylum in the U.S. hosted by the DGSOM Asylum Clinic and the OVMC Human Rights Clinic.

This specialized training will include:

 - An overview of the operations of the PHR Asylum Network

 - An introduction to asylum law and updates on new legislation impacting asylum applicants

 - The foundations of scientifically-based forensic evidence collection and documentation

 - Basic and advanced interviewing techniques with asylum clients

 - Detailed instruction on how to conduct physical and psychological evaluations and document the sequelae of torture and other forms of persecution

 - An overview of the U.S. immigration detention system and a discussion on issues affecting the health of detained immigrants

 - The content of the training is derived from the Istanbul Protocol, PHR’s training manual and the experts own experiences.


The training is open to everyone. After completing this training, licensed clinicians will be qualified to conduct forensic asylum evaluations within the PHR Asylum Network through a PHR-affiliated clinic (such as the DGSOM Asylum Clinic or OVMC Human Rights Clinic) or independently. Students studying in clinical fields and clinicians that are not yet licensed will be qualified to observe and assist with evaluations through one of our PHR-affiliated clinics.

A light breakfast, refreshments, and lunch will be provided. Casual attire.


Thank You To Our Sponsors and Partners!


2018 Training FAQ's

1. What is a forensic evaluation?

A forensic medical evaluation documents evidence of torture and ill treatment and effectively communicates this evidence to adjudicators. Physicians provide expert opinions on the degree to which clinical findings corroborate allegations of abuse and educate adjudicators on the sequelae of trauma. They document their findings in a legal affidavit submitted to the court and are occasionally called upon to give testimony.

2. What is schedule for the training?

8:30-9:00: Registration & Breakfast (Registration closes at promptly at 9!)

9:00-9:15: Welcome & Review Agenda

9:15-10:05: Introduction to Asylum Law

10:15-11:45: Documenting Physical Sequelae of Torture & Ill Treatment 

11:45-12:40: Lunch  

12:40-1:40 Documenting Psychological Sequelae of Torture & Ill Treatment 

1:50-2:20 Best Practices for Writing Affidavits, Testifying in Court and Collaborating with Attorneys

2:30-3:30 Breakout Groups featuring discussion on specialized topics including advanced physical and mental health, gynecological, and child mental health evaluations

3:30-4:00 Group Q&A, Ways to Get Involved & Wrap-up

3. I have already participated in a PHR training before. What's new about this training?

In response to the large volume of psychological evaluation requests, this training aims to provide evaluators with practical tools to diagnose psychological disorders- including major depression, anxiety disorders and PTSD- commonly seen in asylum seekers. The focus will be on helping all providers, including general practitioners/internists, become more comfortable with mental health evaluations. 

4. Who will be speaking at the training?

Coleen Kivlahan, MD, MSPH

Dr. Kivlahan is Senior Director of Health Care Affairs at the American Association of Medical Colleges and Professor of Family Medicine at UCSF. She has extensive experience conducting forensic evaluations for political asylum seekers and leading trainings on this topic with Physicians for Human Rights.

Nate Ewigman, PhD

Dr. Ewigman is a clinical psychologist certified by Physicians for Human Rights in the advanced forensic documentation of asylum seekers. He has experience training learners from several disciplines in the forensic documentation of psychological sequelae of torture in the U.S. and at the American University in Beirut.

Scott Ventrudo, JD

Mr. Ventrudo is a Staff Attorney at Human Rights First and previously served as an Asylum Officer for the USCIS in San Francisco. In addition to having a wealth of knowledge about asylum law he brings the valuable perspective of having previously adjudicated asylum cases.  

5. How many evaluations are conducted each month at the DGSOM Asylum Clinic?

There is a nationwide backlog on asylum cases. Thus your contributions to our clinic are critical and much appreciated. However case volume varies months to months and we cannot guarantee case placement. Our phase I organizational goal is to process 3-6 cases/month with 30 active evaluators and 30 student volunteers. If our member grows faster than our case load, we will work hard to take in more cases from various sources to make sure every member has a chance to participate in asylum work. 

6. Which asylum clinics can I join?

Please consult with each clinic on its policy on who are qualified to be enlisted in its network. Currently, DGSOM Asylum Clinic works with students, faculties, clinical staff, and volunteers affiliated with UCLA. USC-Keck Human Rights Clinic is open to those without USC affiliations (please contact contact@keckhumanrights.com).

7. How can I get more involved in the DGSOM Asylum Clinic? 

If you are interested in a leadership role or would like to expand our efforts in asylum-related research and advocacy or in the continuation of healthcare for asylum seekers please reach out to us at dgsomasylumclinic@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

8. My schedule doesn't work for this training. What are other training options?

1. 9/15 in New York, NY, hosted by the MSHRP. Register at tinyurl.com/HRPfalltraining. 

2. 9/15 in Philadelphia, PA, hosted by the PHRC. Register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/physician-training-asylum-evaluations-tickets-45880439630.

3. 9/22 in New York, NY, hosted by the WCCHR. Register at: https://goo.gl/forms/gWtIyQY7CO6k8WUJ2. Streaming option is available for those who cannot attend in person.

4. Potential Spring training hosted by USC-Keck 

9. How can I learn more about and get involved with the Olive View Human Rights Clinic? 

The Olive View-UCLA Human Rights Clinic is a monthly academic clinic established with the goal of providing forensic medical and psychological examinations for survivors of torture and persecution seeking asylum. The clinic, hosted by Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, is run in partnership with Physicians for Human Rights.  It is staffed by volunteer UCLA and Olive View attending physicians across a range of specialties and is also a teaching site for the UCLA Internal Medicine Primary Care Track and OVMC Internal Medicine residency programs. 

If you are interested in getting more involved, please reach out to Dr. Arash Nafisi (ANafisi@dhs.lacounty.gov) and Dr. Sural Shah (SuralShah@mednet.ucla.edu) for more information.

Access slides and other documents for the training