Columbia University Medical Center

Columbia Medical Students Present Ideas for Human Rights Education

Second-year P&S students Jessica Calihan, Erin Elbel, and Henna Shaikh received the Steve Miller Fellowship in Medical Education this year to further their work with the P&S Human Rights Initiative (HRI) and to explore the need for human rights curricula in medical education. Ms. Elbel, the initiative’s clinic director, gave a presentation last week at the 2014 medical education meeting of the Association of American Medical Colleges.

The HRI is an organization of students and faculty committed to developing a human rights-based approach to the practice of medicine. Its members advocate for the use of medicine to identify, document, and alleviate human rights abuses. Given the multidimensional nature of human rights advocacy, the initiative examines the connections among medicine, economics, law, sociology, and humanitarianism.

The HRI administers Columbia’s Asylum Clinic, which provides pro bono medical evaluations to individuals seeking asylum in the United States. Founded in 2010, the clinic is composed of psychiatric, medical, and gynecological physicians; clinical social workers; and psychologists who have received training in identifying the physical and mental aftereffects of abuse and torture.

The Steve Miller Fellowship in Medical Education supports research projects that enhance medical education or humanism in medicine from the medical student’s perspective. It was established in memory of Steve Miller, MD, a 1984 graduate of P&S. Dr. Miller was the Arnold P. Gold Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at P&S, director of pediatric emergency medicine at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian, and director of pediatric medical student education when he was killed in a plane crash in 2004.