“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and inhumane.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Now and then, we hear a lot of stories revolving around healthcare and money. One such commonly encountered “You think money doesn’t buy happiness until you see a critically ill patient dying from some terminal illness just because there was a delay in his treatment due to a lack of proper health insurance”.  But he is dying now and you certainly can’t do anything about it but you can prevent others from it. Here, the role of a Healthcare lawyer comes into consideration. 

If you are thinking about a career in health law, you have come to the right place.

Discussed in this article are:

What is Healthcare law? 

Health law is a field of law that encompasses federal, state, and local law, rules, regulations, and other jurisprudence among providers, payers and vendors to the healthcare industry and its patients, and delivery of health care services, with an emphasis on operations, regulatory and transactional issues.

In simpler words, It is the branch of law that deals between the healthcare provider and the one seeking healthcare. 

Well, the health law is not limited to the one seeking but also to the one providing that are the physicians, surgeons, Dentists, Physical therapists, nurses, etc. 

Health law is a dynamic field of law. Health lawyers deal with cases and policies about access to proper healthcare, health insurance coverage, difficult ethical choices (involving euthanasia, informed consent, and conflicts of interest) providers of care (as mentioned above), the safety of drugs, vaccines, food supply and various other interesting topics. Well, talking about healthcare, it also deals with various strategies involving disease prevention, control, and treatment. 

It also involves private sector health law practice, public sector health law practice, Labour law, Reproductive rights (rights involving sterilization, abortion, MTP, etc ), public benefits law, medicolegal ethics, Right to speech, etc. 

Health care for all is a human right.

Senator Bernie Sanders

Health law being a complex field, there are various issues on health which a lawyer tackles during its practice. Some of the issues are discussed below:

A. Provider Issues

They are further classified as:

  1. Institutional issues: Institutional providers include hospitals, health centers, government hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and also assisted living facilities. It also includes teaching hospitals. 
  1. Individual issues: Doctors, nurses, midwives, acupuncturists, etc. 

The common legal issues revolving around public health interest and such providers are : 

  • Regulating healthcare policies
  • Licensing or certification of providers 
  • Bioethical issues raised by patient care, Eugenics, Euthanasia, Medical resource allocation, End of life care ( for the elderly ). 
  • Real estate matters: Such as the purchase of new property or construction of a new medical wing. 

B. Medical Malpractice 

It is a different area of health law. 

The malpractice lawyer deals with practitioners, patients and insurers. (errors in diagnosis, treatment, aftercare or health management) or any such act when a medical professional deviates from its practice. 

It means dealing with questions arising due to malpractice, adverse medical outcomes, and compensating the victims.

C. Food policy and regulation

 Right from how food is farmed, processed, manufactured and sold, keeping in mind the minimum health standards. Moreover, the legal issues concerned with food additives, adulterants and labeling and enforcement of wholesomeness standards. 

D. Criminal laws

Quack medicine and those unregistered practitioners. 

E. Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Development and Regulation 

These include newly innovated drugs, vaccines, drugs under clinical trials.

Approval processes, access to such drugs, newly discovered drugs for rare genetic diseases, the research protocol, and patient selection, and safety for such newly found drugs.

F. Constitutional Law and Civil Rights 

So, the students enrolled in the healthcare law course will get to learn, explore, and analyze various ethical and legal scenarios as listed above.

Sounds interesting? Why wait? 

How to become a healthcare lawyer?        

 Well, A healthcare lawyer is called a JURIS DOCTOR (J.D).

  1. Obtain a bachelor’s degree: It can be a bachelor’s in economics, history, health care administration, health studies, or health humanities. 
  1. Take the LSAT (Law School Admission Test): Undergrads prefer to take the LSAT during the junior years, which tests an aspiring lawyer’s critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and reading skills. 
  1. Complete law school : 

During the initial year, the program focuses on basic concepts. The final two years deal with different aspects of the law such as medical research ethics and law, medical malpractice, and public health law. All states require lawyers to be licensed for this. The individuals must pass a bar exam and a professional responsibility exam.

Take elective courses in healthcare law. ( This shows your passion and interest towards healthcare law and thus will make your resume impressive).

Choosing the right school:

Most of the schools offer a four-year course. But in a country like India, it is a five-year course. 

To become a health lawyer in India, you need to first obtain a bachelor’s in Law which is known as LLB, where during the final years of the course you get to study the elective subject such as health care law. 

When you choose a law school, keep in mind the following points:

  • The school focuses on the Practical application of the subjects rather than only the theoretical aspects. 
  • Offering renowned guest lectures in the health law field. 
  • Providing relevant and adequate information on current health issues. 

4. Take the bar exam.

5.Work/intern as a healthcare attorney. 

6.  Obtain a masters of a law degree: Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Health Care Law or Global Health Law. 

To work as a healthcare lawyer, individuals need to be licensed in the state in which they practice.

Popular career options for a student with JD with a specialization in healthcare law.

  •  Lawyer 
  • Patients’ rights consultant 
  • Public health law consultant 
  • Comparative health law professor 
  • International healthcare law consultant 
  • Healthcare fraud prosecutor 
  • Health management consultant 
  • Hospital in-house counsel

LL.M. in National and Global Health Law :

This 34-credit Global Health Law course offered by Georgetown Law University in association with  O’Niell Institute of National and Global Health Law. The innovative full or part-time courses of study give insight and deep understanding of health and law, including global health governance, health and human rights, food and drug law, access to health care, and legal interventions to prevent and control infectious and non-communicable diseases.

The eligibility criteria is different for the US nationals and international students. For more information and to apply, click here.

Scholarships for Health Law Majors

1. Levy Scholars Program Scholarship

The Levy Scholars Program Scholarship is available to incoming students at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. 

2. University of Melbourne Malcolm D H Smith Memorial International Scholarship in Australia, 2020

This scholarship is targeted for aspiring students interested in JD (JURIS DOCTOR) program and thus wants to pursue a career in healthcare law. 

Eligibility:

  1. Eligible Countries: All nationalities.
  2. Acceptable Course or Subjects: Juris Doctor degree program in Law, legal studies, and criminology.
  3. Admissible Criteria: To be eligible, applicants must meet the following criteria:
  • Have applied for and been selected into the Melbourne JD.
  • Have completed an undergraduate law degree or degree majoring in Asian studies at a tertiary institution in Australia or Asia.

For more information and to apply, click here.

3. University of Sydney Law School Dean’s funding for International Students in Australia, 2020

This scholarship is for aspiring students who want to pursue a career in healthcare law. 

Eligibility:

  1. Eligible Countries: All nationalities.
  2. Acceptable Course or Subjects: Juris Doctor (JD) or Master of Laws (LLM) course at the University of Sydney Law School.
  3. Admissible Criteria: To be eligible, applicants must meet the following criteria:
  • Must have a previous year’s degree.
  • Must have an unconditional offer of admission in either a JD or LLM degree.
  • Students who have already commenced their JD or LLM studies or students transferring from other programs are not eligible.

To know more about this program, click here.

4. Anna & Nicoletta Ciffolilli Scholarship in Law for International Students, Australia

Unique feature: this scholarship is awarded to a highly talented female student (Australian and international student)

Eligibility:

  1. Eligible Countries: All nationalities
  2. Acceptable Course or Subjects: Postgraduate degree in all subject areas offered by the university
  3. Admissible Criteria: To be eligible, the applicants must meet all the following criteria:
  • Candidates have completed at least 48 points towards a Juris Doctor
  • Be a female student
  • Be enrolled, or eligible to enroll

They must be a full-time candidate in the Juris Doctor at the University.

If Interested to know more about the application process, click here.

Below are some online courses and internships you can look into.

Online healthcare law courses

Online non-credit specialization course on Healthcare law offered by UPenn Carey School of Law.  You can access it online. It is offered on Coursera. 

Internships

 1. CDC’s Public Health Law Program (PHLP) 

PHLP is seeking motivated students who love a challenge and can bring a fresh perspective and innovative solutions to CDC. This externship and internship are for incoming and current third-year law students interested in exploring careers in public health law. Moreover, it will be an advantage for a law student who is well versed in the coding process and data entry process and even for those who have done some scientific research work. The internship and externship is offered by PHLP in the following areas of the health law. Public Health Law Internships and Externships :

  1. Tribal Public Health Law Internships and Externships
  2. Administrative and Communication Internships and Externships 

 For more information about the program, click here.

Eligibility Criteria: 

  • Applicants must be incoming and current third-year law students for the internships and externships in public health law or tribal public health law.
  • But, for PHLP administrative and communications internship/externship is only for students enrolled in masters-level programs, earning a degree in public health, public policy, public administration, communications, business, or similar discipline.
  • Both internship and externship are unpaid and internship doesn’t have any academic credit. However, the externship opportunities are available for students seeking academic credit as authorized by law schools or schools of public health.

Duration: 9-14 weeks 

Applications Deadline: 
Summer: January 31
Fall: April 30
Spring: October 1

To apply, you need to send a resume and cover letter to phlawprogram@cdc.gov. (It accepts the applications through email only).

For a career in healthcare law in India

  1. Take the CLAT (Common Law Admission Test)
  2. Obtain a Bachelor’s degree in law  (five-year integrated course) OR a Bachelor’s degree in any subject (three-year course)
  3. Take the AIBE (All India Bar Exam).
So, be the business behind healthcare! 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s