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Political Asylum Elective Approved

Public Health and Medicine efforts culminate in the introduction of a Political Asylum Medicine elective MDID 6570, for the 2023-2024 academic year. The course focuses on educating students about advocacy and medical-legal partnerships to support individuals seeking political asylum in the United States, and is directed toward students interested in working with medically underserved populations and patients whose health is largely affected by legal, social, and cultural barriers to healthcare.

In the elective, students will learn how forensic evaluations are conducted and documented for immigration court proceedings. They will also learn to document quality affidavits that are crucial for objective medical evidence in asylum cases. Further, the course will cover themes such as trauma-informed care, and how to serve LGBTQ+ and pediatric patients. The diversity of asylum cases in the Intermountain West will also be discussed.

Asylum Elective

Additionally, all students who attend the required core competency sessions will have the opportunity to shadow and assist physicians during forensic medical evaluations at the University of Utah’s Asylum Clinic.

The creation of the new elective is an example of the division’s commitment to provide students with state-of-the-art training in health challenges facing communities in Utah and across the nation. The new elective joins other Public Health electives including Community and Global Health.

“This elective will help medical students respond more effectively in meeting the needs of those seeking political asylum,” says Ivette Lopez, PhD, who was instrumental in ushering the new elective through the necessary University procedures to get it added to School of Medicine offerings. “This new elective will make significant impacts for a future workforce that leads with compassion.”

Upon completion of the elective, students will have a comprehensive understanding of the global forced migration crisis, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on asylum seekers, and State and Federal resources.

The 0.5 credit course will be offered starting in the Spring 2024 semester.