Class covers law, medical professions

By Lisa Daigle

To help law and medical students better understand each other’s profession, NIU and the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford have combined their efforts in the form of a new course.

“It’s very important to both professions that they understand one another better,” Leonard Strickman, Dean of the College of Law at NIU said.

Strickman said in the last 20 years the amount of tensions between the two professions has greatly increased, due partially to the increasing number of medical malpractice lawsuits, AIDS, and a terminally ill patient’s right to die.

The medical field is at a disadvantage because those in it don’t understand their legal rights and responsibilities, Strickman said.

The three-credit class is available at NIU to law students after they successfully complete their first year in law school. Currently, there are 23 students from both schools enrolled in the class, 10 of which are NIU law students.

The course is an elective and Strickman said he did not think it would ever become a required class.

“Even with state funding we wouldn’t be able to afford it,” Strickman said.

Both medical and law students meet separately for the first three sessions of the class, which introduces them to the way the opposite profession operates. Afterwards, the students are brought together for discussion.

Strickman said each semester a different topic involving both professions will be taught.

Professional Malpractice focuses on medical and legal malpractice. Next semester, AIDS and the law will be addressed.

Only one section of this course is taught this semester. To include more sections in the future, Strickman said additional funding would have to be obtained.