Forensic Evaluation of Asylum Seekers

Healthcare professionals can make a powerful and unique contribution to individuals seeking asylum by providing forensic medical evaluations (FME). Clinicians possess the skills necessary for writing impactful medical-legal affidavits based on objective assessments of physical, functional and psychological scars related to persecution and torture.

The Society for Refugee Healthcare Providers presented an asylum training course that provided an introduction and overview of asylum medicine. We reviewed the history and legal basis of asylum, the physical and psychological assessment of asylum seekers and how to write affidavits. More advanced topics included evaluation of individuals subjected to gender-based and LGBTQI-related violence, evaluating children, guidance for working with trainees, the importance of advocacy, vicarious trauma and self-care and an update on asylum at the US southern border.

Faculty included asylum law and medicine experts Katherine McKenzie, Joanne Ahola, Eleanor Emery, Jennifer McQuaid, Janine Young, Joseph Shin, Linda Hill, Anjali Niyogi, Leora Hudak, Alison Beckman, Hope Ferdowsian, Matt Gartland, Alisa Gutman, Karen Musalo, Deborah Ottenheimer, Katherine Peeler, Vidya Ramanathan and Amy Zeidan.

This virtual course was held over the weekend October 24th and 25th. The presentations have been recorded and can be watched below until January 31st 2021. Slides for selected presentations can also be downloaded below. If a presentation’s slides are not listed then the presenter has opted not to make them available.

Missed the North American Refugee Health Conference? You can still register & watch the recordings here.


1. Asylum Law, Human Rights Law, and the Critical Role of the Health Professional
Professor Karen Musalo

Download Professor Musalo’s slides

2. Documenting Physical Sequelae of Torture and Ill-Treatment
Dr. Amy Zeidan and Dr. Matt Gartland

Download Drs. Zeidan & Gartland’s slides

3. Documenting Psychological Sequelae of Torture and Ill-Treatment
Dr. Alisa Gutman and Dr. Jennifer McQuaid

Download Dr. Gutman & Dr. McQuaid’s slides

4. Best Practices for Writing Effective Medical-Legal Affidavits, Testifying in Court, and Collaborating with Attorneys
Dr. Hope Ferdowsian

Download Dr. Ferdowsian’s slides

5. Special Considerations in Gender-Based Violence Asylum Applications
Dr. Deborah Ottenheimer and Dr. Janine Young

6. Ethics, Advocacy & Policy
Dr. Joseph Shin

7. Working with Trainees during Forensic Medical Evaluations
Dr. Eleanor Emery

Download Dr. Emery’s slides

8. Evaluating LGBTQI Asylum Seekers
Dr. Joanne Ahola

9. Asylum Evaluations of Children
Dr. Katherine Peeler and Dr. Vidya Ramanathan

Download Drs. Peeler & Ramanathan’s slides

10. Asylum Seekers at the Southern Border
Dr. Linda Hill


11. Performing Remote Medical and Psychological Evaluations
Dr. Anjali Niyogi

Download Dr. Niyogi’s slides


12. Finding Internal Balance: An Introduction to Secondary Trauma and Resilience for Asylum Evaluators
Leora Hudak and Alison Beckman