Teaching Law in Medical Schools: First, Reflect

Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 40 (2):301-310 (2012)

Abstract
Law is now routinely included in the medical school curriculum, often incorporated into bioethics and/or practice of medicine coursework. There seems to lack, however, a systematic understanding of what works in terms of getting across an effective depth and breadth of legal knowledge for medical students — or what such would even look like. Moreover, and more critically, while some literature addresses these what, when, how, and who questions, a more fundamental question is left unanswered: why teach law in medical school? This article suggests a process to reveal a more consensual understanding of this latter question. The author highlights findings and recommendations of some of the leading literature to date related to teaching law in medical schools, and also recent U.K. projects addressing legal teaching in medical schools. Reflecting on these materials and activities, the author suggests that we take a “pause” before we argue for more or different legal topics within the medical curriculum. Before we alter the curricula for more and/or different “law,” first, it is critical to have a meaningful, stakeholder-driven, consensus-seeking discussion of the goals of legal education: why do we think it matters that medical students learn about “the law”?
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DOI 10.1111/j.1748-720X.2012.00665.x
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