McGeorge School of Law

Law, Medicine Mix at McGeorge

February 4, 2013

Megan Beaver

Elder & Health Law Clinic Megan Beaver, left, discusses a medical legal issue with UC Davis School of Medicine student Laura O'Neill.

Each semester for the past five years, a select group of McGeorge students has traveled to nearby UC Davis School of Medicine to attend joint classes with medical students addressing the interrelated health and legal needs of a growing senior populace.

On Jan. 17, 2013, Elder & Health Law Clinic students met with UCD med students to participate in simulations involving issues of alleged medical error. The three-hour class followed a meeting between Pacific Law and UC Davis faculty members to set the ground rules and divide students into several groups. Actual "clients" with difficult stories then confronted the students.

"The class involves a standardized patient who presents with issues of outrage, confusion and grief over the death of her husband," said Professor Melissa Brown, the supervising attorney for McGeorge's Elder & Health Law Clinic. "It presents the need for effective conflict resolution, client/patient relationships, and explores the impact that fear of litigation has on the relationship between the patient and the doctor."

Medical-legal relationships are being established around the country, and McGeorge and UC Davis School of Medicine have been among the leaders of a movement to develop multi-sector solutions. The two institutions' students have worked in the past at an on-campus citizenship fair with students from the law school's Immigration Clinic providing free assistance for people applying for U.S. citizenship, and UCD med students offering free blood pressure and vision screening services.

"Interprofessional collaboration is essential to enhancing the quality of life for the rapidly expanding elderly population," said Dr. Michael Wilkes, a Professor of Medicine and Co-Director of Doctoring at UC Davis. "The more the legal and medical professions can speak the same language and work toward common goals, the more our seniors will benefit."