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SKILL SHARPENER

Two Penn Law Students Embody Interdisciplinary Health Law Program [by Erica Winter] Some students think that getting a J.D. is tough--and they’re right. All law students work hard. Some students, however, never seem to get enough.

Holly Fernandez and Cobin Stoelberg could

Fernandez’s article, “Genetic Privacy,

Penn Law “makes it easy for law students

be said to be in the latter group. Both are

Abandonment, and DNA Dragnets: Is Fourth

to get their master’s,” says Stoelberg. The

second-year law students at the University

Amendment Jurisprudence Adequate?”

bioethics degree is “a wonderful program.”

of Pennsylvania, and both are concentrating

examines whether people can have a reason-

Stoelberg was drawn to Penn Law and its

in health law--an area of study that, at Penn

able expectation of privacy for their own DNA

joint degree program after discovering Art

Law, fosters multitasking.

and genetic material and whether material

Kaplan’s writing while a philosophy major at

that is left behind can be considered “aban-

the University of Utah. “Seeing hurdles that

doned,” and therefore not private.

doctors face in hospitals” while in medical

Stoelberg has completed two years of medi-

school sealed his goals, he says.

cal school at the University of Utah. He has taken a leave of absence before he finishes

This question is a “huge problem,” says

his third year of med-school classroom work

Fernandez. Because the issue has not been

Before starting at law school, Stoelberg

to get a J.D. from Penn Law and a master’s

adjudicated, there is no reason now to

says he “did not understand the depth and

degree in bioethics (MBE) as well.

expect privacy, and thus legislation would be

breadth” of the field of health law. It is not

needed to adequately address the issue, says

only healthcare fraud, payer issues, and

Fernandez turned down Harvard Law to stay

Fernandez. “It is impossible to not leave DNA

malpractice lawsuits, but also regulation,

at Penn, her undergraduate alma mater, so

around” everywhere we go, but without the

intellectual property, and contracts issues,

she could also receive her MBE along with

expectation of genetic privacy, people might

he says.

her J.D.

end up wanting to walk around in some sort of bubble.

Doctors, says Stoelberg, confront many bioethical issues in their work, including

Fernandez and Stoelberg are not unusual at Penn Law, where students can take four

Fernandez applied to the bioethics program

death/end-of-life care; duty-to-treat issues,

elective courses at other parts of the univer-

when she applied to Penn Law but did not

physician-assisted suicide; and access to

sity while in law school. Many who are focus-

start classes for the MBE until her second

healthcare for the uninsured.

ing their study on health law like Fernandez

year. Many in the program apply during their

and Stoelberg use these electives towards a

first year in law school; the MBE takes two

joint degree, usually in bioethics, through the

years to complete.

Bioethics Center, or in business, through the Wharton School of Business at Penn.

This coming summer, Stoelberg is considering possibly working at the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the

Despite some advice to choose Harvard Law,

Inspector General or one of the larger Phila-

Fernandez says she “was really happy that I

delphia law firms. He would like to see what

Among other issues, privacy is one legal

chose Penn in the end.” Penn Law’s integra-

law firm life is like, yet his ultimate plan is to

question that draws Fernandez to bioethics,

tion of degrees and disciplines is “a really big

finish his medical degree. “I am more drawn

she says. While fulfilling Penn’s pro bono

plus here,” she adds.

to practicing medicine,” he says.

Dr. Art Kaplan, the head of Penn’s Bioethics

Because she would like to do regulatory work

With his joint degree from Penn, however,

Center and an expert in the field. She as-

after graduation, this coming summer Fer-

Stoelberg will choose a specialty (such as

sisted him in his work regarding genetic pri-

nandez will work at the Washington, DC, firm

internal medicine or emergency medicine)

vacy issues. Her work with Dr. Kaplan led to

Hogan & Hartson. Regulatory work is the

that also allows him to have the time to help

her writing an article that will be published in

closest intersection of law and bioethics she

shape national healthcare policy.

the January/February issue of the Hastings

would find at a law firm, says Fernandez.

service requirement, Fernandez worked with

Center Report, a leading bioethics journal.

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Two Penn Law Students Embody Interdisciplinary Health Law Program  

Two Penn Law Students embody Interdisciplinary Health Law Program. Penn Laws integration of degrees and disciplines is a really big plus her...

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