The Pathways immersion program, in place now with about seven students taking part, helps students determine if this dual role makes sense for them.
“One of the things the health pathway does is it helps lawyers and doctors break down the barriers between the two professions,” said Melissa Swain, Associate Director and Clinical Instructor, Health & Elder Law Clinic. “When they find out they have to work together one has a black jacket, one has a white jacket and they don’t want to talk to each other. By the end of the session, they are starting to work with each other and figuring out the different roles in their different professions and can work together on a case and tap into the strengths of both professions and make the case work better than if they were separate.”
Law students go weekly to Jackson Memorial Hospital or the Miami VA Healthcare System or University of Miami Hospital to see doctors in action, for example. “It’s a different setting than sitting in a law office,” Swain said. “They see the difference. Doctors running around all day, they don’t have office secretarial help. The doctor comes into the law office and, wow, it’s so quiet. They get to work in each others’ setting.”
Indeed, said Bannis. “Working at Jackson, we have patients with multiple legal as well as medical and surgical issues. My time at the medical school taught me to deal with medical surgical issues but didn’t do that good a job at teaching me legal issues. This helps in making these issues more tangible and we are able to attack those issues in comprehensive fashion.”
The coming UM dual program has its origins at Arizona State University under the direction of Dean Patricia White, who is now Dean of UM’s Law School. She is working on the program’s launch with law school colleague Sandy Abraham and Doctors Mark O’Connell and Alex J. Mechaber.
Last March, White and Mechaber, senior associate dean for undergraduate medical education and associate professor of medicine, hosted a session at the Miller School to detail the program for interested students. The pair drew more than 20 students, Swain said.
Call them the super achievers.
“There’s been tremendous interest and we can gauge that interest based on the health way pathway we’re offering,” Swain said.
“The students have impressed us as extraordinarily motivated and engaged, bright and analytical,” Newman added.
In a statement, White reflected on the complexity of the dual program. “It would take a certain kind of person who would be able to undertake the intensity to have this done in six years,” she said. “But it also creates an extraordinarily well-educated person who would have an amazing complement of talent and would be able to do any number of things.”