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Several schools offer online master's degree programs in medical law for healthcare professionals. The programs help healthcare workers understand legal and ethical issues they may encounter, as well as prepare them for consulting with legal counsel. There are also master's degree programs in medical law for practicing attorneys, but these programs are rarely offered online.
Healthcare workers who enroll in an M.S. or M.J. program in health law can take most courses online, but some programs may require a brief residency. Students may take courses in topics such as healthcare policy, contracts, finance and patient safety. They study risk management, public health and bioethics. A thesis may be required.
An LL.M. degree program in healthcare law gives licensed attorneys the training needed to become experts in the field. A J.D. is required for students who plan to enroll in an LL.M. program. They study topics such as ethics, economics, legal issues and policy as they relate to the healthcare industry. Students can choose electives to meet their career goals, and a thesis may be required. Some programs require students to visit campus for workshops, meetings and other events.
Master's Degree in Health Law
Master's degree programs train students to understand and interpret laws affecting health care. Online learners also examine the legal and ethical issues that confront working healthcare professionals, as well as learn to communicate with legal counsel. Entrance into a master's degree program requires a bachelor's degree for health care professionals, while practicing attorneys must hold a Juris Doctor.
Program curricula are generally divided into modules. Foundational courses cover topics such as administrative law, legal negotiation, contract law and health policy.
Legal Issues in Public Health
This course introduces students to the influence that government regulations and laws have on the public health sector at both the state and national levels. Students examine the public health process, which includes measurement, analysis, planning, design and evaluation. While often working in groups, students analyze and discuss the environmental, biological, physical, social and global parameters that shape the current public health landscape.
Health Law and Policy
Students investigate the legal issues that occur between patients and health care institutions. Topics include health care access, liability, public and private regulations, accreditation, licensure and patient rights.
Medicare and Medicaid
Students in this course investigate the legal structure and fundamentals of Medicare and Medicaid. The curriculum discusses program goals, communities served, eligibility, program restrictions, benefits and compensated services. Students examine case studies to understand federal regulations and law interpretations.
Online M.J. and LL.M. programs are 24 credit-hours long and can be completed in two years, while online M.S. in Health Law degree programs can range from 30-42 credit hours, and can be completed in about two and-a-half years. Programs can generally be completed entirely online; however, some M.S. programs require students to complete a 3-day residency. Students can access course material at any time, as well as attend live lectures and communicate with instructors and peers in real-time discussions.
Students must have access to a computer with a high-speed Internet connection. Due to the nature of course delivery, the computer must have audio and video capabilities to stream live and recorded lectures. Students should also have a printer to create hard copies of course material.
Master's graduates are qualified for employment as medical and health services managers within the health care industry. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the employment rate for this occupation is expected to rise by 17% from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). In May 2015, this same source cited the annual mean wage for this position, in the general medical and surgical hospital sector, was $114,180.
For individuals in the healthcare field who are interested in medical law, there are several online programs at the master's degree level. M.S. or M.J. programs offer courses that can be completed online, though they sometimes require on-site residencies in order for degree completion.