In a health law education program, students can become familiar with health organization structures and practices while studying legal transactions, bioethics, fraud and other patient related issues. Most programs at all levels call for clinical experience and internships and emphasize research. Certificate programs are often offered to complement a law or health degree program, while bachelor's and master's degree students may study health law as part of degree programs in public health.
For admission into a bachelor's program, students should have their high school diplomas or GEDs, letters of recommendation, and work or volunteer experience in a related field. A bachelor's degree in medicine, health administration, law, or a related area is required for a master's degree, along with letters of recommendation and three years of work or volunteer experience in a related field.
Certificate in Health Law
Programs may ask students to pick a focus for their certificate in health administration, bioethics, human rights or public health. Certificate programs may be attached to the school's law department and may be designed as add-ons to a law or health law degree.
Earning a health law certificate requires students to perform research and gain clinical experience along with traditional classroom coursework. Research projects culminate in a publishable article that determines graduation. Common classes include:
- Healthcare laws and policies
- Medical fraud
- Global health policies
- Patient laws and rights
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Bachelor's Degree in Public Health
A bachelor's degree program in public health is one way to study health law. Public health students study healthcare governing laws, ethics and management practices. Some programs offer a dual degree, culminating in a master's degree.
Students studying public health focus on the organizational practices and management skills needed to help healthcare organizations with business or legal issues. Some public health classes students may take are:
- Healthcare legal issues
- Healthcare organization
- Business economics
- Society, human behavior and public health
- Healthcare statistical models
Master's Degree in Health Law
Graduate-level programs in health law assume students are working professionals in law- or medical-related professions. As a result, law professionals interested in the program should be in good standing with their state's bar association before they apply. Programs are designed to be taken part-time, and some schools offer online options. Health law covers legal issues intrinsic to the healthcare industry, encompassing corporate, tax, criminal, real estate and labor laws. Common classes include:
- Laws and healthcare
- Medical organizations
- Financial analysis
- Legal studies and writing procedures
- Legal health research
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Research done by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that lawyer positions will grow about 6% from 2014 to 2024. This rate is considered about average growth. The BLS claims the field is competitive with some graduates working on an as-needed basis rather than permanently with a firm.
The mean wage for lawyers, as reported by the BLS in May 2015, was $136,260 a year. Most attorneys made between $55,870 and $174,280 annually (www.bls.gov).
For individuals hoping to combine their interest in healthcare with law, a degree or certificate program in health law may be the right option. After finishing their degrees, students will find themselves quite marketable in a number of fields, like law, healthcare, analysis, and research.