• Evaluating the Impact of Student-run Asylum Clinics in the US from 2016-2018

      Sharp, Madison B; Milewski, Andrew R; Lamneck, Claire; McKenzie, Katherine; Univ Arizona, Coll Med (HARVARD UNIV PRESS, 2019-12-21)
      Individuals applying for asylum must demonstrate a well-founded fear of persecution. By documenting signs of torture and other forms of abuse, medical evaluations can provide forensic evidence to support asylum claims. The backlog of pending immigration cases in the United States recently exceeded one million. Student-run asylum medicine clinics conduct forensic evaluations to assist in the asylum adjudication process. The Physicians for Human Rights National Student Advisory Board administered surveys to student-run clinics in the US in 2017 and 2018. Retrospective analysis evaluated the completion rates of forensic evaluations, caseload capacities, and training frequencies. Student-run asylum clinics completed 38.8% more forensic evaluations in 2017 than in 2016. In 2016, 33% of clinics received forensic evaluation requests that exceeded their capacity, a figure that rose to 50% in 2017. The number of clinicians trained by asylum clinics increased nearly fourfold between 2016 and 2017, and the number of students trained grew by 81%. A recent surge in armed conflict has contributed to record numbers of asylum applications in the US. The results of this survey reveal the burgeoning capability of student-run asylum clinics to provide evaluations, a trend that underscores medical students' ability to significantly impact human rights issues. Student-run asylum clinics are poised to fill an increasingly important role in supporting victims of torture and persecution.