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"Practicing Medicine and Studying Law": How Medical Schools Used to Have the Same Problems We Do and What We Can Learn from Their Efforts to Solve Them

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Title: "Practicing Medicine and Studying Law": How Medical Schools Used to Have the Same Problems We Do and What We Can Learn from Their Efforts to Solve Them
Author: Bard, Jennifer S.
Abstract: This article seeks to help law schools develop their skills programs by highlighting the research medical schools have conducted in discovering the most effective methods of turning incoming students into practicing physicians. It also cautions that existing status inequalities at law schools between faculty who possess and can teach legal skills and those without such skills will make the task difficult and that these inequalities need to be appreciated in order to achieve effective results. The article will start with a brief overview of why it is necessary for law schools to integrate skills training and then, after a brief overview of the structure of medical education, will discuss how medical schools came to the decision of moving schools training into the undergraduate curriculum and what actions they have taken to do so. It will then compare the effort in medical schools to that of law schools with the intent of making it easier for those interested in using the experience of medical schools to integrate skills training into the law school curriculum. The purpose of this article was to provide resources for law school faculty members who want to integrate the skills of the practicing lawyer into today’s law school classroom by providing information about how medical schools have approached a similar task. In the last ten years, medical schools have been working to change a culture where skills were learned by observation and modeling into one where skills are taught intentionally and consistently starting in the first two years of medical school. This represents a significant change because even as medical school curriculum has evolved and changed over the past twenty-five years these pre-clinical years had focused on the acquisition of knowledge about the human body, not clinical skills. It has tried to present this information in the context of some significant differences between the resources available to medical schools which make the task of teaching skills earlier in the curriculum easier than the task will be for law schools. These advantages include a faculty which possesses current clinical skills and an extended period of subsidized apprenticeship.
Date: 2011

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