J-1 Student Interns cannot participate in any clinical care positions or any other position that involves patient contact. Any position that would require a student intern to provide therapy, medication or other clinical or medical treatment is prohibited, including veterinary medicine.
The U.S. Department of State (DOS) uses the terms direct ‘patient care’ and ‘patient contact’ interchangeably. Therefore, anything involving patient contact and/or patient care is considered clinical and is forbidden under the J-1 program, including J-1 Student Intern.
‘Patient contact’ is any physical or psychological interaction with a person that could affect their health and/or overall well-being. The person does not need to be a patient in the traditional sense. A few examples of patient contact that are considered clinical are: attaching EEGs to someone, drawing blood, performing an X-ray on a living being, dentistry, psychological interviews for study or diagnosis, and so forth.
Humans and animals are both considered patients by the U.S. Department of State. Veterinary care and veterinary clinical research for animals are considered clinical activities and are therefore not allowed on the J-1 program, including J-1 student intern. Lab animals or animal models, whose sole purpose for existence is for research, are not considered patients by DOS. Therefore, any work with lab animals/animal models is allowed on the J-1 program.
Pure observation is not considered a clinical activity and would be allowed in J-1 status. However, the J-1 must be truly only observing—they cannot interact with a patient in any way. The activity is no longer observation the moment a doctor hands the J-1 a scalpel to hold, asks the J-1 to check someone’s blood pressure, etc.