Business suits + white coats

In MLP, student learns value of lawyers, doctors partnering for healthy communities

Looking past the stereotypes, lawyers and doctors have a lot in common. Usually seen as adversaries, I know that at least medical students and law students can be friends.

My best friend is an M2 at KU Med – no, not a 2M. She has a different test schedule every four weeks, her grades depend on more than just a single test, she can view her class lectures online at home, and she administers physical exams on trained actors for practice.

We have vastly different academic experiences. She complains about memorizing the clotting cascade for blood platelets. And I argue about a comma under the Last Antecedent Rule.

But we both have professional mentors, we have ethical and professional responsibilities, we worry about passing boards and bar exams, and we both post up at the library for hours on end.

Most importantly, in life, we both care about healthy communities, advocating for progressive and supportive legislation, working for the public interest and promoting women in leadership positions. And that is what we have in common. To be effective in achieving these goals, our professions have to work together.

In undergrad, we took public policy classes together and discussed policy’s impacts on communities. Back then I viewed our future professions as two different worlds — until I participated in KU Law’s Medical-Legal Partnership Field Placement at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. My supervisor’s words meant more to me than she probably intended, that “we cannot work in silos.”

While working at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, I saw this firsthand. I was able to visit patients on the floor to conduct intake interviews, sit on follow-up appointments, call clients with updates and work on court documents. This required working with LMH’s Care Coordination Office, nurses and physicians to provide care to patients.

Doctors and lawyers alone or together can be intimidating, but we have to forge partnerships to make sure our community is healthy. Whether it’s working on the language for legislation, referring patients to supportive services or understanding the medical decisions patients make, combining perspectives is vital to efficiently make a lasting impact on our communities.

While working at the MLP Field Placement, not only did I reconcile medicine and law, but I also found a passion for legal services. As I enter the second half of my law school career, I am thankful that KU Law had an MLP to focus my studies and career aspirations as well as unearth the connection between my degree and skills and an enduring passion that brings different professions together.

Jessie Pringle is a 2L and KU Law Student Ambassador from Chanute, Kansas.