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