The distinguishing feature of the Law School’s program in health law is its collaboration with the University’s School of Medicine and its Medical Center, which is consistently ranked among the nation’s top hospitals. At Virginia, law students can study health law in the clinical setting, interacting with medical students and physicians from all medical specialties, including pediatrics, neurology, internal medicine (infectious disease and geriatrics) and psychiatry. Law faculty teach in the School of Medicine and Medical School professors teach Law School classes. This collaboration extends to health policy experts in the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, the Darden School of Business and the Schools of Architecture, Arts & Sciences, Engineering and Nursing. Students benefit from viewing the regulatory context through the eyes of physicians, inventors, health care administrators and experts from a variety of fields.
This interdisciplinary approach is further borne out through institutes and centers at UVA that allow students to study and work on pressing issues in health care, biotechnology, research, genetics and moral philosophy:
J.D.-M.P.H. (Public Health) Program
In conjunction with the Department of Public Health Sciences at the School of Medicine, the Law School offers a dual degree in public health through a program directed by Professors Ruth Gaare Bernheim and Richard Bonnie. Students have access to graduate courses in health policy and management, health economics, ethics, global health, social and behavioral health, environmental health and research methodology. Instituted in 2003, the M.P.H. program offers concentrations in generalist practice and research, health policy, and law and ethics, and includes field placement options in global health, health policy and public health sites. The program takes four years to complete and requires a minimum of 116 credits. More
Designed to educate the next generation of health leaders, the J.D.-M.D. program allows students to complete law and medical degrees in six years, instead of the seven years normally required if the degrees were pursued separately. Students spend the first three years and the summer of year five in classes at the School of Medicine, and years four and five at the Law School. In the final year, one semester is spent in each school. Students are required to secure admission separately to the School of Medicine and UVA Law through the normal admissions processes of the two schools. More
Students in the yearlong Health and Disability Law Clinic help represent mentally ill and elderly clients in negotiations, administrative hearings and court proceedings. The legal matters may involve civil rights, mental health care in jails and prisons, disability benefits claims, access to health or rehabilitative services, creating wills and other testamentary documents, and advance directives.
Fellowships and Externships
Students may apply for funding from the Law School’s health law fellowship program to work in a variety of settings. Students have worked for employers such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Public Health Law Program and the Food and Drug Administration.
Health Law Contacts
Professor Richard Bonnie
Professor Ruth Gaare Bernheim
Professor Margaret Foster Riley