Briefing Room


Joint-Degree Program Helps 3L Discover Passion for Health Law

September 14, 2015 | Students

Law school was always something 3L Avery Schumacher wanted to pursue following her undergraduate studies. For years people told her she would make a great lawyer and that her strengths in writing and communicating would make her a good fit for the profession.

“I knew I wanted to be a lawyer, but I wasn’t sure what kind of lawyer. I dabbled around thinking ‘OK maybe criminal law, maybe juvenile defense.’”

It wasn’t until she took a few graduate level courses in health administration, however, that she discovered an area of practice she was truly passionate about – health law.

After starting law school, Schumacher met with an attorney currently working in health care who suggested she think about pursuing a dual-degree, paring her J.D. with a Masters in Health Administration.

“As a 1L, I began doing informational interviews with lawyers already practicing in the field. One attorney explained she was going back to school to pursue an M.H.A. because she needed that degree to move up at her hospital. She suggested that if I was really serious about pursuing a career in that field, I should combine those degrees now while I could effectively cut a whole year off of the program,” she said.

Schumacher enrolled in one of the Moritz College of Law’s five formal joint-degree programs to gain the knowledge and skills she would need to pursue her intended career in health law.

This summer she took an internship at The Ohio State University’s Neurological Institute in administration, where she was able to gain experience in the field and apply what she had learned in the classroom in a real-world setting.

“Part of what makes the M.H.A. program really helpful in pursuing this career is they have residencies. It’s like a typical summer internship, but you are in a health administration position, working with top leadership.” she said. “I’ve been dealing with hospital operations, compliance, and, because they know I am a dual-degree student, I’ve actually had the opportunity to do some risk management work. When I graduate, I want to be a risk manager for a hospital. One of the projects I’ve worked on is developing a protocol for how the hospital handles patient assaults when a staff member wants to file charges. It’s been a good intersection between hospital administration and law because of the prosecution aspect of it.”

Schumacher has her sights set on using both her degrees throughout her career.

“One of the hardest parts in making the decision to do this program was deciding whether or not I wanted to take on that extra financial commitment and being in school another year. In the end though, I’m very happy I did it,” she said.