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is a JD-MD useful?

Discussion in 'Topics in Healthcare' started by erasable, 06.14.06.

  1. erasable

    erasable Member

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    1. What place does law have in medicine?
    I'm entering med sch this fall, but a lot of my friends are entering or planning to enter law school and I'm starting to get the tingly feeling myself.
    2. When should I do the JD? between 3rd and 4th year?
  2. Doctor Bagel

    Doctor Bagel so cheap and juicy Moderator Emeritus

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    I doubt you get enough benefit to justify either the money or the time. The MDs I knew in medical school were all career changers, and the same appears to be true with medical school. People try to sell law degrees as a broad liberal arts degree with all sorts of applications, but the reality is that there are better degrees for everything except actually practicing law. If you want to do policy work, get an mph. If you want to do business, get an mba. I've heard some MDs get JDs to beef up their ability to be an expert witness at trials, but that seems like a waste of 3 years to me since most law students take one to two civil procedure classes and one evidence class.

    Anyway, I'm cynical and possibly uncreative here.
  3. tcdulin137

    tcdulin137 Junior Member

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    i'm not going to search for it because i dont really care whether i convince you or not, but if you want to look for it, theres an article on the internet by a guy that did an md/jd program and his advice is pretty much not to do it because the benefits simply don't justify the time and money he put in to get the dual degrees. besides, what the hell do you need a jd for if, like you say, a lot of your friends are going to be lawyers? just call them when you need to and save 3 years of your life and 60 thousand dollars.
  4. Blue Dog

    Blue Dog Avec caféine. Gold Donor SDN Advisor

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    I see no advantage to purposefully obtaining both degrees. The one you don't end up using will be a significant waste of time and money.

    As another poster noted, all of the MD/JDs I have met were career-changers.
  5. Zerosixjt

    Zerosixjt Member

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    If you were always on the fence about which degree to get and just can't live without a JD then go for it. But unless you are looking at a career as an administrator or working closely with insurance companies, the extra degree is really not necessary.

    If you still want to do it though, look into duel degree programs, they usually take less time than taking the coursework for both separately.
  6. erasable

    erasable Member

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    hm...my friends are interested in patent law ...so I can't really depend on them everytime I run into trouble/need advice. I thought law might have applicability in:
    1. physician executives
    2. turf war (physicians vs. other health professionals)
    3. malpractice suits
  7. Doctor Bagel

    Doctor Bagel so cheap and juicy Moderator Emeritus

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    I'd see it maybe for the first, but for the latter two you really need to hire a lawyer. Being a physician and being a practicing attorney is probably an unrealistic expectation, so it's not like you could defend yourself or your buddies from a malpractice suit or successfullly sue those future DNPs. I could see where having some legal knowledge for all three would be useful, but three years of law school is a bit excessive, especially since law classes aren't structured for practical application.
  8. bbas

    bbas Senior Member

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    The MD-JD combo would probably be useful if you wanted to work as a consultant in medical malpractice cases.
  9. Doctor Bagel

    Doctor Bagel so cheap and juicy Moderator Emeritus

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    Really? It seems like what they would really be looking for from a medical consultant is someone who could assess the standard of care in the community and basically determine whether the physician acted in a medically correct way. I don't see where this would require any detailed knowledge of the law. It might maybe make you more hireable, but I doubt it's actually anywhere near necessary.

    The thing about law school is that you don't really learn how to be a lawyer. Law school teaches you these general critical thinking schools, and you're supposed to learn all the nuts and bolts about the law through practice (well, maybe not supposed to, but that's how it plays out). I can't see how my JD would make me any more competent to be a medical malpractice consultant than a mere MD. Now my sister did medical malpractice defense, so if she got an MD, maybe she'd bring something extra to the table.

    If you like school and have money to throw away, then, hey, the two degrees might make sense. But I can't see where it's practical.
  10. DrBowtie

    DrBowtie Responsible?!?! PGY3 Moderator Emeritus

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    I don't think so. If you are looking to hire a consultant, you want the people at the top of their field like Baden in Forensic Path.

    It would be impossible to obtain that kind of status while trying to pursue a career in both medicine and law.
  11. almost_there

    almost_there Senior Member

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    Curious -- does it make a difference if the JD is from Yale? I'm thinking networking, contacts, etc.
  12. Doctor Bagel

    Doctor Bagel so cheap and juicy Moderator Emeritus

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    Again, I don't know about the practical applications, but a JD from Yale would be a cool thing to have. My understanding is that Yale is pretty cushy to their students -- isn't it pass/fail or something like that? If you're wealthy or get generous grants, I'd probably say go for it. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that Yale seems very focused on training legal academics, so it might not give you as great corporate contacts as other top schools.
  13. almost_there

    almost_there Senior Member

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    I'm wondering more about work in health policy, politics, and foreign affairs (medically related and other).
  14. ProZackMI

    ProZackMI Psychiatrist/Attorney

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    Look, the only reason I went to law school, after medical school, was to become a lawyer and leave medicine. I'm in the transition process now. I do not plan in staying in medicine.

    My point is, if you want to be a physician and practice medicine, go to medical school. If you want to be a lawyer and practice law, go to law school. You do not need a JD to be a medical-legal consultant. You'll be testifying in court based on your MEDICAL opinion and knowledge (MD), not legal opinion and knowledge. You can learn enough law to become familiar with court rules, rules of evidence, and civil procedure without going to law school. You can take paralegal courses if you'd like, but you don't need the JD degree.

    Likewise, if you want to practice malpractice law, you don't need an MD or DO degree. You can learn enough medicine to master med terminology, procedures, etc., without having attended medical school.


    If you really want to combine the two fields, maybe get a BSN degree with RN licensure, then do law. Or possible PA and JD. Medical and law, however, is not worth the time, money, and effort. You'll end up practicing in one field, not both. Most MDs who get their JD stay in medicine, but some move over and become full-time attorneys. Some attorneys go back and get an MD or DO and then leave law completely. Almost NO MD-JD actually practices in both fields completely. Don't waste your time.
  15. ProZackMI

    ProZackMI Psychiatrist/Attorney

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    Health policy -- Master's in Health Admin, Public Admin, MBA, or MPH is more appropriate. Some med schools offer MD-MPH programs in policy. A JD-MPH is also a good combination. Why do you need an MD to become an expert on health care policy? An MD is only good for practicing medicine and perhaps medical research. An MD has very little practical value in the world of health policy. A PhD in health economics is also a good degree to explore, or a PhD in health care sociology.

    Politics -- if you're interested in public office, get a JD-MPH combination or JD-MPA. An MD is absolutely useless in politics. Why would you want an MD to be a politician?

    Foreign Affairs -- Again, what the hell does an MD have to do with foreign affairs? Are you talking about international medicine? International epidemiology? There are a multitude of graduate programs better suited to a career in foreign affairs with a health care emphasis than an MD or DO.

    My advice, think about what you REALLY want to do with your life. If you want to be a doctor and treat patients, then go to medical school. Later, when you're making money, after residency, and you want to change, then go for it. If you want to be in politics and policy, but want a health care background, consider getting your undergraduate degree in nursing, get an RN licensure, and then get an MPH, MPA, or possibly a JD/DPH/PHD in law, policy, public admin, public health, etc. with an emphasis on policy or admin.
  16. almost_there

    almost_there Senior Member

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    There's a lot of good advice here. For me, though, there are distinct reasons for wanting an MD and another degree. Primarily, I want to be a doctor and treat patients. It fits my personality and what I find satisfying and meaningful (personal service that makes a deep impact on individuals). However, I also have a strong interest in policy and economics, domestic and foreign.

    So, it's not really that I want to do something at the intersection of medicine and law, but that each fits different aspects of my personality and aspirations.

    There are some areas of synergy, though. Why isn't an MD useful in health policy? Firsthand experience with the healthcare system from multiple perspectives (provider, patient, small business owner, etc.) would seem to be extremely valuable in formulating policy and building a coalition.
  17. ProZackMI

    ProZackMI Psychiatrist/Attorney

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    Yes, an MD would give you firsthand experience with the health care system, but would keep in mind that an MD is a professional practitioner's degree; it is not a policy degree, nor is it a useful launching platform to start a career in politics. Like I said, if you really want to treat patients, go to medical school. Later, after residency, while you're making some money, you can pick up another degree in policy or economics and possibly combine your interests...that is, if you're still interested in doing such things.

    However, if you really want to shape policy and impact health care from a political standpoint, why bother with medical school and residency? You seem to want to have your cake and eat it too. That's the ideal...in reality, you often can't do both without giving up something. Ultimately, you're going to do what you want, but based on your description, you could just as easily accomplish your goals with a BSN/RN + JD or other advanced degree; or, PA + advanced degree of some kind (JD, PhD, DrPH, MBA, MPH, etc.).

    An MD is only good for practicing medicine. A JD has more uses other than practicing law, but by and large, a JD is mostly useful for practicing law. An MD-JD won't meet your goals based on what you're saying here. In fact, it seems to me like you really don't know what you want. Have you considered going to the career center at your college/university or talking to your advisor?
  18. almost_there

    almost_there Senior Member

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    PM'd you to avoid hijacking the thread. :)
  19. armynavy

    armynavy Junior Member

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    MD and a MBA is more useful. People with JD and MDs just like to brag about how many letters the got.
  20. Lee580

    Lee580 Member

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    If you were an MD/JD, wouldn't that make you the ultimate ambulance chaser? It seems like you would be able to completely rip docs apart if you possesed the same medical knowledge as them when you are sueing them. Just a thought.
  21. Doctor Bagel

    Doctor Bagel so cheap and juicy Moderator Emeritus

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    But you wouldn't possess the same medical knowledge because you wouldn't be practicing medicine. Consequently, your knowledge is likely to not be current and would certainly not be as reliable as a practicing doctor. I guess I'm getting back to the point that you can't do both well. Being a good doctor and a good lawyer is probably an impossible demand.
  22. EctopicFetus

    EctopicFetus Keeping it funky enough

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    This is the only reason if you want to practice a little medicine.

    There are some JD/MD guys who do med mal plaintiff and defense work. IMO if you are a money grubbing scum bag you could make a TON of cash suing docs with an MD cause you could be better at asking the right questions etc.

    Anyways if you care about people (aka practice medicine) there is no reason.

    If you want to be an expert they make insane money and while it would help to have a JD most experts do not, they are just good old MDs.
  23. bbas

    bbas Senior Member

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    I was more so talking about people who did not want to practice medicine but were planning on using the MD for something else, sort of like the MD/MBA people who go into administration or the MD/MPH folks who want to work in public health. A physician that I'm familiar with actually started his own malpractice consulting business and works on both plantiff and defense cases. Now, I don't know if he has a JD and it probably wouldn't be mandatory, but having the extra degree obviously wouldn't hurt especially if you have your own business.

    But, as you said, if you just want to practice medicine and be an expert witness on the side, the JD wouldn't be needed.

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