Spring 2024



GHP has formed an exciting collaboration with Refugee Health Alliance (RHA) in Tijuana, Mexico. RHA is an organization formed to address the medical, legal, and structural consequences of displacement on asylum seekers, deportees, and other vulnerable populations at the US-Mexico border. Currently, the organization is the largest non-governmental free healthcare provider for migrants in Tijuana, and is considered a leader in the region for migrant healthcare, with deeply embedded connections with local community organizations. The organization works with a small paid staff made up of Mexican nationals and refugees, in addition to volunteer healthcare providers from the US and Mexico. 

RHA operates two daily clinics (Justicia en Salud and Resistencia en Salud) and provides in-person and telephonic/video medical support for over 30 shelters in Tijuana. RHA addresses mental health through trauma-informed care by psychologist and psychiatrists, and also provides prenatal care, dentistry, acupuncture services, naturopathic medical care, acute care referrals, gender affirmation and LGBTQ healthcare, and legal support.

Daniel Kulinch
DGSOM graduate, Daniel Kulinich '23, reviews patient's charts at RHA

In Spring 2024, students will have the opportunity to provide medical care alongside RHA colleagues and will learn about the structural, psychosocial, and legal issues that displaced populations experience. Inevitably, such an environment will challenge students to understand structural causes of migration and to work on adding tools to their “advocacy toolkit.” Students will rotate between Resistencia en Salud (general pediatrics and adult medicine and specialty services), Justicia en Salud (pre- and post-natal care and midwifery), and Saturday shelter visits. Students are likely to see patients with infectious and communicable diseases, including COVID-19. Patients may also present for chronic disease management, orthopedic injuries, women’s health, psychiatric and trauma-informed mental health care, and LGBTQIA+ care.

Students will be supervised by independent providers, including NPs, PAs, therapists, and other licensed clinicians from both Mexico and the United States. RHA also works closely with several legal organizations to provide medico-legal support through a referral process for humanitarian parole, documentation of medical problems, and asylum evaluations. Formal asylum evaluations occur during special clinics and via remote video collaborations with asylum clinics in Los Angeles.

The rotation in Tijuana, Mexico has been developed with formal goals and objectives. We seek students interested in caring and advocating for displaced populations and those with enthusiasm for global health, advocacy, public health, and medico-legal support in resource-poor settings. Students must be fluent in both spoken and written Spanish to participate in this elective.


Students will receive $1,000 of support to participate in the three-week RHA clinical rotation. These funds will offset the costs of travel to Tijuana and in-country accommodations and food. Students may need to cover the remaining expenses from other funds, as the cost of this rotation might exceed the amount provided by GHP. Students can either drive and pay for daily insurance to have their car parked in Tijuana, or take the train or bus and avoid the need to park their cars. Students will likely stay at local Airbnb properties during the three-week rotation.

Interviews for this elective will take place on Saturday, September 9, 2023, and limited time window(s) after September 9th. Students selected for this rotation are required to participate in a mandatory full-day pre-departure training program in Los Angeles on Saturday, February 10, 2024. Upon return home from Mexico, students will be expected to provide feedback through written evaluations and to participate in a mandatory lunchtime feedback session on Thursday, May 30, 2024. Separate from this, students will be asked to attend a site-specific debrief to be arranged upon return from Mexico and prior to graduation.

Rotation dates for this elective have been confirmed. Students applying to this three-week elective must be able to commit to this elective from March 18, 2024, through April 5, 2024. Note that a March 18 start date will require departure from the U.S. by March 16, 2024, at the latest.

Questions regarding this rotation should be directed to Dr. Traci Wells at TWells@mednet.ucla.edu.

Map of Tijuana, Mexico