Medical practitioners are faced with a daily onslaught of laws and regulations that affects the care of their patients, but they often can be unaware of how the crossroads of health policy and law impact their world and what they can do about it.
To help connect the separate entities of medicine and law, UC San Francisco and UC Hastings College of the Law have combined their expertise to offer a new degree program: the master's of science program in health policy and law, which begins classes in August.
The degree program is the first to offer an online degree in the field of health policy and law. It also features a partnership that spans three UC campuses. The program is based at the UCSF Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies and offered in collaboration with UC Hastings and the UC Berkeley Resource Center for Online Education. The program will prepare graduates to critically assess and solve the policy problems and practical dilemmas that the U.S. health care system face.
“To really improve peoples’ lives, evidence from laboratory, clinical or population science research needs to be translated into real-world terms, into policy and practice,” says Dan Dohan, Ph.D., professor of health policy and social medicine and deputy director at the Institute for Health Policy Studies. “We built this degree program from the ground up to focus on how to put evidence to work in the real world.”
Dohan co-directs the program with Jaime King, J.D., Ph.D., a nationally renowned professor of health law and bioethics at UC Hastings. “The previously siloed worlds of medicine, law and public policy now must constantly interact with one another,” says King. “The Health Policy and Law Masters degree program will train current and future leaders in these fields to work together to improve health care and translate health care research into meaningful health care policy proposals.”
Using law as a tool to change health policy
“From the UCSF side comes an ability to analyze and understand evidence,” says Dohan. “UC Hastings provides a window into the most powerful tool we have for change: the law.”
The program weaves together elements of health policy and legal education including health economics and finance, policy analysis and evaluation of evidence, and legal analysis and research. Courses – which can be tailored on a track of health policy or health law – will provide students a solid understanding of contemporary policy issues including health costs, coverage, and disparities and the relationship of these policy issues to the legal system including health care reform and the Affordable Care Act.
To provide a practical way for working medical or legal professionals to educate themselves about one another’s world, the fully online degree was created with flexibility at the forefront. The program is offered as a one- or two-year program with part-time or full-time options.
“The Graduate Division is proud to offer another forward-thinking program that reflects the interdisciplinary nature of education at UCSF,” says Elizabeth Watkins, Ph.D., dean of the Graduate Division and vice chancellor of Student Academic Affairs. “Graduates from the program are sure to be a powerful force for positive change in the health care system.”