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University of Pennsylvania's Health Law Program Takes Advantage of Its Surroundings


The schools health law program does not come with its own certificate of completion. Health law can be the legal doctrines that in some way impact the core relationship of doctor and patient.

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									SKILL SHARPENER                                                                                                                  1.800. 973. 1177

University of Pennsylvania’s Health Law Program Takes Advantage of
Its Surroundings
[by Erica Winter]
Philadelphia is home to some of the nation’s premier hospitals. It seems only right, therefore, that the University of Pennsylvania Law School offers a highly
extensive interdisciplinary program in health law.

The school’s health law program is not               Theodore Ruger last year from Washington            the law school or apply while in their first
based at a center, nor does it come with its         University in St. Louis as another addition to      year. If accepted, law students start taking
own certificate of completion. Students do           its health law faculty. “Health law” can be         MBE courses in their second year. This year,
not have to apply to get into the program            “the legal doctrines that in some way impact        there are nine Penn Law students who are
once they have been accepted by the law              the core relationship of doctor and patient,”       also studying for their MBEs, says Madison.
school. Instead, the health law program is a         he says, or the law which addresses that
concerted effort on the part of the law school       relationship indirectly, through insurers,          Law students studying bioethics can do clini-
to acknowledge and draw on the law school’s          hospitals, public health, or constitutional law     cal rotations in the Hospital of the University
local assets and expand those relationships.         issues.                                             of Pennsylvania (HUP) or at Philadelphia’s
                                                                                                         Children’s Hospital. Second-year Penn Law
Over the past few years, the law school has          The constitutional side included in “health         student Holly Fernandez will take advantage
been actively hiring professors who concen-          law” is studied in-depth at Penn through            of this resource next year when she does her
trate on health law, says Kristin Madison,           bioethics, which involves questions of              rotation with HUP’s Bioethics Committee,
Assistant Professor at Penn Law. The school          healthcare privacy, the right to die, and other     whose members respond to hospital physi-
is “trying to take advantage of internal and         constitutional issues in healthcare. Anita Al-      cians’ medical ethics questions. Fernandez
external resources,” Madison says.                   len-Castellitto, Henry R. Silverman Professor       will “shadow and learn,” she says, from
                                                     of Law, came to Penn four years ago and is          these “philosophers with pagers.”
Madison, who came to Penn four years ago,            a leading national expert on privacy law and
specializes in legal issues involving health-        bioethics.                                          Also at Penn is the Wharton School of Busi-
care organizations. She explains that “health                                                            ness, which has a Health Care Systems De-
law” means different things to different             The goal for students studying health law at        partment. Penn Law students can receive a
people. For example, Madison teaches a               Penn is to shape “lawyers who are knowl-            certificate in business and public policy from
class on the law of health care regulations,         edgeable and sophisticated regarding legal          Wharton while in law school. This program,
which looks at things such as healthcare             issues in healthcare,” says Allen-Castel-           too, requires a separate application but can
fraud under both federal and state laws.             litto. Towards this end, students learn about       be completed concurrently with the J.D.
                                                     health law from the entire range of perspec-
In addition, larger, more general areas of law       tives, including constitutional, financial,         The law school facilitates this interdisciplin-
touch on healthcare law, Madison explains,           legislative, and ethical.                           ary atmosphere with the practical step of let-
such as liability or antitrust law and ques-                                                             ting law students take four elective courses
tions of whether these areas of law change           Within that framework, the diversity of the         in other parts of the university. For the MBE,
when applied to healthcare. Medical mal-             University of Pennsylvania’s academic offer-        for example, those law students take one
practice liability is rather well known; less        ings are used to their fullest, whether they        course per semester in bioethics during their
known is the question of vicarious liability,        are contained within the law school or not.         second and third years, and can cross-count
such as whether a hospital is responsible                                                                some of their law school classes towards the
for a doctor’s actions. Anti-trust issues can        The Bioethics Center, which is not part of the      master’s degree.
be clear when dealing with corporations, but         law school, is the heart of a master’s degree
possibly less so when dealing with a group of        in bioethics (MBE) that some law students           Students themselves embody the interdisci-
nonprofit hospitals.                                 pursue simultaneously with their law de-            plinary spirit of the health program at Penn
                                                     grees. The MBE is a two-year program; law           Law. Some students take time off from medi-
Penn Law brought in Assistant Professor              students can apply for it when they apply to        cal school or even from programs in veteri-

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SKILL SHARPENER                                  1. 800. 973.1177

nary medicine to study law and bioethics.

If they do not return to medial school or be-
come veterinarians, graduates who focused
on health law while at Penn usually go to
work in large law firms, says Madison, and
some to those firms’ healthcare groups.

No matter where students work after gradu-
ation, they will encounter health law in their
legal work, says Ruger. Healthcare issues
“permeate American social and economic
life,” he says. Through Penn’s program,
Ruger hopes that students will be “leaders in
addressing these pressing questions.”


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