Orientation and Welcome

An overview of the history and mission of PHR and the National Student Program.

Welcome to PHR

Mission Statement

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) mobilizes health professionals to advance health, dignity, and justice, and promotes the right to health for all. Harnessing the specialized skills, rigor, and passion of doctors, nurses, public health specialists and scientists, PHR investigates human rights abuses and works to stop them.

Our research takes us to conflict zones, to US prisons and immigration detention centers — and our advocacy brings us to the offices of national and international policymakers. The courts, decision makers and the media have come to rely on our credibility and expertise. Motivated by moral urgency, based on science, and anchored in international human rights standards, PHR’s advocacy advances global health and protects human rights. PHR is building a new movement for human rights based on the solid foundation of over two decades of investigation, advocacy and accomplishment.

About PHR

History

PHR was founded [1]in 1986 with the idea that health professionals, with their specialized skills, ethical duties, and credible voices, are uniquely positioned to investigate the health consequences of human rights violations and work to stop them.

Since its founding in 1986, PHR members have worked to stop torture and political killings; investigated deaths and trauma inflicted on civilians during conflicts; documented inequities in health and health care due to racial, ethnic and gender discrimination; exposed exploitation of children in labor practices; documented evidence of genocide, exposed human rights abuses within prisons; and helped build local capacity to combat global AIDS.

PHR is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and also has an office in Washington, DC. We are a non-profit, non-sectarian organization funded through private foundations and by individual donors. Membership is open to all, not just health professionals. PHR shared the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize.

Board of Directors [2]

Staff [3]

Mission Statement Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) mobilizes health professionals to advance health, dignity, and justice, and promotes the right to health for all. Harnessing the specialized skills, rigor, and passion of doctors, nurses, public health specialists and scientists, PHR … Continue reading

Orientation and Welcome

An overview of the history and mission of PHR and the National Student Program.

An overview of the history and mission of PHR and the National Student Program.

PHR National Student Program

PHR recognizes the importance of organizing students to fight for health and rights. If we fail to fight for the basic social and economic rights of the poor and the marginalized, we will have failed in our mission.

– Dr. Paul Farmer, Director of Partners in Health

Vision of the PHR National Student Program

The goal of the PHR National Student Program is to advance health professional students’ understanding of and commitment to the right to health and to cultivate skills as advocates for health and human rights locally, nationally and globally.

To achieve this goal, the National Student Program’s objectives are to:

  • Advance a global understanding of health as a human right among health professional students and health-related institutions
  • Educate students and their communities about PHR’s research through events and materials
  • Support and strengthen PHR student chapters’ capacity to be effective health and human rights activists
  • Involve campus chapters in local, national and international policy debates and campaigns

The advancement of health depends on the protection of human rights. As future health professionals, you play a vital role in PHR’s work to advance health and human rights. Your commitment to health and medical ethics, and your demands for rigorous evidence and justice lend credibility and power to your advocacy.

Outreach and National Student Program Staff

Hope O’Brien [5], National Student Program Coordinator, works with the Student Advisory Board, the Regional Chapter Mentors, the Regional Training Coordinators, the HHRE Mentors, and the PHR staff and board of directors to lead the National Student Program.

PHR National Student Program Events

Please visit the Calendar [4] to learn about upcoming events and advocacy opportunities.

The National Student Conference

PHR’s annual National Student Conference features expert speakers, strategy sessions, and skill development workshops. The conferences allow participants to network and strategize with other dedicated students and faculty who strive to advance health as a human right on their campuses and in the world.  Participants meet human rights and medical professionals and hear them speak about their experience and expertise. We strongly encourage each Student Chapter to send at least two to three students. We also welcome applications from medical students who may not have a PHR student chapter but are committed to furthering human rights.

The theme of the 2011 National Student Conference was “Our Role, Our Responsibility: Defending Health and Human Rights.” Speakers addressed the unique opportunities and obligations of students and health professionals in the promotion of health and human rights. Attendees were able to confer with fellow students and colleagues during skill development workshops, and develop networking and hands-on advocacy skills with the guidance of journalists, policy analysts, and advocates.

2010’s student conference focused on empowering students and faculty to change the paradigm of medicine to one which embraces human rights through the incorporation of human rights in health professional education. Topics included the critical need to integrate health and human rights into education, strategies for incorporating quality human rights education in curriculum, as well as tangible skills and solutions for PHR student chapters to bring back to campus. The 2010 conference brought together almost 150 committed students and faculty who act as the front-runners of the curriculum change movement on their campuses.

Regional Advocacy Institutes

Join PHR staff and local experts in an intense one-day training to build your knowledge and skills and to network with other students.  Each Regional Advocay Institute will improve your understanding of some of PHR’s priority issues, further develop your advocacy skills [3] and foster collaboration between chapters in your region. For more information, contact the National Student Program Coordinator [1] or your Regional Training Coordinator.

In 2010, PHR held Regional Advocacy Institutes in Chicago, Baltimore, and Boston. Visit the student blog [7] [2] for information about upcoming opportunities.

National Actions

Each year, the PHR National Student Program leads targeted advocacy to address urgent human rights concerns and PHR’s advocacy priorities. Support is available for students to learn about these issues and, in turn, educate their campuses and involve their communities in the advocacy efforts. Visit the Advocacy Skills [6] section of this Toolkit for more information.

National Action: Health and Human Rights Education
September and October 2010

National Action: Human Rights and Health Access
December 2010

National Action: The Global Health Week of Action
April 2011

Visit the student blog [7] [2] for information about upcoming National Actions.

Student Leadership

“PHR restores my faith in the medical profession and reminds me that medicine is about more than showing up at the hospital every morning and leaving when the day is over – it is about changing the world.”
– John Chiosi, Student Chapter Leader

PHR depends on the visionary leadership of students to support our National Student Program. There are several ways for student to become involved in National Student Program leadership.

National Roles: the Student Advisory Board

The SAB is a national board of 7 or 8 students. The role of a Student Advisory Board member is:

  1. to serve as a liaison to student chapters within a certain geographic region, and
  2. to provide strategic and operational advice to the mission and direction of the National Student Program.

An SAB member is expected to be engaged in the development of the Student Program by completing his/her assigned duties, maintaining open lines of communication, and actively seeking areas for improvement in the National Program.

Regional Roles: Regional Chapter Mentors

Regional Chapter Mentors offer critical peer-to-peer support, advice, and problem-solving assistance to their region’s student Chapters, and help student Chapter leaders advance their Chapter development and activities. Regional Chapter Mentors provide the personal communication and online presence to ensure the chapters feel supported, appreciated, and connected to one another and to the National Student Program.

Regional Roles: Regional Training Coordinators

Regional Training Coordinators ensure that PHR’s National Student Program offers effective trainings in health and human rights advocacy. Regional Training Coordinators work with the National Student Program Coordinator to plan, run, and follow up on an engaging Regional Advocacy Institute. Therefore, the bulk of the work will be done August through November. Regional Training Coordinators will also support the regional community by supporting PHR’s direct communication and online presence.

School Roles: Chapter Leadership

Each Chapter should identify one or more students who will serve as the leader or leaders and provide vision and management of the Chapter activities. These leaders will maintain frequent contact with the National Student Program Coordinator, with their Regional Chapter Mentor and Regional Training Coordinator, with the members of their Chapter, with the Chapter’s faculty advisor, and with the campus administration.

Resources of the PHR National Student Program

The Student Blog [12] is updated frequently to make students aware of current PHR projects and opportunities.  Students often post to share their experiences.

Your Chapter may connect with others in your region through the Regional Hubs [11].

The PHR National Student Program has created a number of Toolkits [10] to educate students and facilitate involvement in advocacy.

PHR’s human rights work [8] is organized by campaign.  PHR staff and expert guests post frequent updates on emerging situations on the main PHR blog, the Health Rights Advocate [9].

PHR publishes its findings on human rights violations in reports [13], available for download.

PHR recognizes the importance of organizing students to fight for health and rights. If we fail to fight for the basic social and economic rights of the poor and the marginalized, we will have failed in our mission. – Dr. Paul … Continue reading