One of the unique things about the HeLP Legal Services Clinic is the collaboration among law students and medical students working to solve issues that impeded the health of children being treated at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
The clinic, a collaboration with Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Children’s Health Care of Atlanta and the College of Law, brings together law students, medical students from Emory University and Morehouse School of Medicine as well as graduate students of public health, social work and bioethics from Georgia State and other universities.
Medical students Amy Hung from Tufts University, Rachel McDiehl from Emory University and Kevin Isaak from Morehouse School of Medicine, are among 14 medical students who have participated in the clinic since August.
More and more medical students have been interested in joining the clinic this year. “By learning about the law, it better prepares them to advocate for their patients,” said Lisa Radtke Bliss, associate dean for experiential education, clinical professor of law and co-director of the HeLP Legal Services Clinic.
The HeLP Clinic holds joint classes at Morehouse School of Medicine, so the third-year medical students learn about the clinic and work on case studies with the clinic, Bliss said. In their fourth year, medical students may sign up for the HeLP Clinic as one of their electives.
The students assisted the law students with file interpretation and would explain medical terms in exchange the law students would teach them about the legal aspects of the cases.
McDiehl studied public policy in college and was interested in working with the clinic because she “wanted to get back to her roots and learn more about advocacy.”
Isaak chose to work with the clinic because of a partnership the Georgia State Law has with Morehouse School of Medicine. Previously he had met with some law students to go over fact patterns similar to the ones they go over in the clinic and enjoyed it. After signing up to participate, he “got to learn the legal aspects that affect patients, which most physicians are oblivious to and [he] gained a better appreciation for how our work is used by the legal team.”
Another one of the students, Hung came here from Tufts Medical School while doing a rotation at Emory. She chose to visit Atlanta to gain a different experience.
“My favorite part of participating in the clinic was getting to see all of the different approaches that lawyers can take to a problem,” Hung said.
All three of the medical students are preparing to enter their residency, which will have a clinical focus much like the fact patterns they worked in the HeLP clinic, McDiehl said. Working with the HeLP Clinic taught them about advocacy and informed them about ways that they can help patients in the future, Hung said.
Working with the clinic gave them “the first steps towards establishing a medical-legal connection” Isaak said.
The medical students are not only able to learn from the clinic, “they also enhance the clinic because they are part of the holistic interdisciplinary problem-solving approach,” Bliss said. “They work side by side with law students to develop arguments for disability cases, and help law students identify specific medical issues that they would not necessarily see by reviewing medical records on their own. They also help us do specific research in medical journals for cases involving particular, and sometimes rare, diseases that may be causing a child’s disability.”