A standalone master's program doesn't prepare students to practice law, but it can lead to careers in health law administration and policymaking. This type of program is usually designed for practicing healthcare professionals. Students learn about medical and healthcare practice, bioethics, health policy, and healthcare law. Joint master's and JD programs, designed for prospective attorneys, usually emphasize healthcare management and health law. Students learn about ethics and legal issues related to insurance, environmental health, care management and the biomedical industry. Students will also complete legal courses and learn to do litigation, research precedent cases and write legal briefs. For enrollment in a joint program, students need a bachelor's degree and satisfactory LSAT and GRE scores.
Master's Degree in Healthcare Law
A master's degree program in healthcare law or health law prepares a variety of non-lawyer professionals to better understand health law issues and policies. Hospital administrators, healthcare facility managers and even doctors may pursue a master's degree in healthcare law. Although this degree program teaches students about health law and policy, it is not a legal degree. Graduates are not permitted to dispense law advice or practice law in the U.S. court system.
This degree program details the legal ramifications of offering medical options, accepting certain insurance plans and managing day-to-day staffing, administrative and patient care facility operations. In addition, it delves into healthcare legal and ethical issues, such as biotechnology research and policy. Program coursework covers topics such as the following:
- Medical & health care practice
- Health care law & policies
- Health care organizations
- Health law & policy
Joint Juris Doctor (JD)/Master's Degree in Healthcare Administration
A joint degree program conferring both a Juris Doctor (JD) law degree and a master's degree in healthcare law or administration combines law and healthcare management curricula. This type of degree program prepares lawyers, hospital administrators and healthcare facility managers to navigate daily healthcare legalities. Graduates can practice law and offer healthcare legal advice to other healthcare professionals, institutions or organizations. Many degree programs require a residency and clerkship prior to graduation.
Students learn about healthcare insurance policies, biomedical industry ethics, long-term care management and physician group partnership issues. Other courses include the following:
- Health system management
- Biological diseases
- Health economics
- Health care law & regulations
- Environmental health
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Juris Doctor (JD) Degree in Health Care Law
A law degree program includes the study of all aspects of law. However, many also offer specializations, such as healthcare law or immigration law. Healthcare law specialization degree programs prepare students to understand healthcare law issues, policies and practices for healthcare institutions, physicians' groups, insurance companies, and personal care facilities.
A healthcare law degree program trains students to research healthcare precedent cases, write legal briefs, litigate healthcare cases in court, and provide healthcare legal advice to other medical professionals. Course topics include the following:
- Health care institution management
- Food and drug law
- Health law policy
- Malpractice law
- Public health law
- Biotechnology law
Popular Career Options
A master's degree in healthcare law enables individuals to find employment in a variety of settings. Hospitals, long-term care facilities and public health lobbyist firms employ healthcare law professionals. This degree can enable a person to work as a hospital health law administrator, a health law legislator, or policymaker, or a healthcare lobbyist.
A dual-degree in law and healthcare management enables professionals to find employment with biomedical technology firms, insurance companies, hospitals, healthcare facilities and public health agencies. The degree can lead to careers such as a healthcare insurance attorney, healthcare hospital lawyer, or administrator or biomedical lawyer.
A law degree enables professionals to work either independently as counsel to an agency or as an employee for a specific institution or organization. A graduate might find work as a healthcare lawyer, biotechnology lobbyist, or malpractice lawyer.
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
From 2014-2024, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports employment growth of 6%, as fast as average, for all types of lawyers. The median annual wage for all lawyers was $115,820 in 2015, as noted by the BLS.
Continuing Education Information
Although there are no required continuing education requirements for non-lawyer health law professionals, many attend annual conferences and seminars about new or updated laws, policies and ethical issues involving America's health care system. Professional healthcare boards, such as the American Hospital Association, encourage continuing education to its members.
Lawyers must continue their legal education each year in order to maintain a current law license. The ABA offers many continuing legal education (CLE) courses and seminars online and in a traditional seminar setting. Each state's CLE requirements are different.
A combined JD healthcare law program offers students the chance to learn both legal and medical practices to prepare them for a variety of jobs involving the overlap of these professions. Continuing education credits to update their knowledge is important for both professions, being necessary to maintain a law license.