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Law School AND Med School?

shanpseudoshanpseudo Member
in Off-topic 51 karma

I have daydreams of being some kind of a surgeon/lawyer, but am unsure how feasible such a career would be. Has anyone read a case study of someone who has done both? Or is anyone actively pursuing a joint MD/JD, especially with interests in pursuing a career in medicine outside of medical law?

I can only imagine the expenses without tons of scholarships.


  • DivineRazeDivineRaze Alum Member
    550 karma

    @shanpseudo My bio professor and I were having a conversation about this a couple years back and I told her that I had the same aspirations. She told me that she knows a few people that went and did both. So it is possible.

  • dfsfddfsfd Free Trial Member
    9 karma

    There is a great book on the topic it'leans more on towards his MD than is JD but a great read over all, J.D from Harvard and M.D. from Duke. Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor's Reflections on Race and Medicine by Damon Tweedy

  • shanpseudoshanpseudo Member
    edited November 2019 51 karma

    @DivineRaze said:
    @shanpseudo My bio professor and I were having a conversation about this a couple years back and I told her that I had the same aspirations. She told me that she knows a few people that went and did both. So it is possible.

    Are you actively pursuing this? I wonder if there is a niche for a lawyer/surgeon, or if by choosing both we disadvantage us to expertise in neither..

  • cooljon525-1-1cooljon525-1-1 Alum Member
    edited November 2019 917 karma

    I think you'll have to take the MCAT and the LSAT which will suck

  • DivineRazeDivineRaze Alum Member
    edited November 2019 550 karma

    @shanpseudo I'm not actively pursuing this but I made sure to cover almost all my pre-reqs for medical so when its time it will be a quicker progression. I'm pretty sure that choosing both won't disadvantage either of us at all. I believe it depends what we do with it afterwards. I personally love the medical field so chances are that I will pursue this after law school.

  • ExcludedMiddleExcludedMiddle Alum Member
    edited November 2019 737 karma

    You have a limited number of years to live and the degrees aren't terribly complementary. Not to mention the fact you won't be bringing in income while you're in school. Both fields require serious expertise; it's not exactly easy to keep up on the subject matter, and it's sort of a use-it-or-lose-it situation. If you're 19-20 you might still have the energy for pursuing both in theory, but as you age you'll likely become less enthusiastic about the idea. Outside of health law, there's really nothing that you're going to gain, if you'd even gain much there. It'd probably be better to just pick whichever one is a better fit for you. Do some shadowing and make a decision.

  • nach0049nach0049 Alum Member
    edited November 2019 36 karma

    It's definitely possible! I know someone who's just finishing up a JD/MD program -- my boyfriend is a surgeon (resident) and one of his med school classmates was pursuing a JD/MD. May I ask why though? Is there a specific area in which you wish to utilize your potential law-medicine expertise? Medical malpractice law, medical device patents, etc.? Don't give up on the dream if you have a compelling reason for pursuing it, but if it's something you're merely interested in because both fields are "interesting" I would caution against it. While there is overlap, each field has so much depth on its own. Surgery in particular is highly competitive, and is truly a craft that requires not only a base of deep medical knowledge, but precision and technical skill that come through regular practice in the OR. It may not be the most practical if you want to practice specifically as a surgeon (the hours in surgery are particularly crazy —12-plus hour days are the norm during residency). Consider if you were going in for surgery: would you pick someone who operates regularly and has completed thousands of procedures, or the person who operates once a week or month? Getting your MD and not practicing is an option, but if you do want to practice, you might want to consider something on the medicine side rather than the surgery side for residency. JD/MD could also be of value if you're thinking of getting into hospital administration eventually.

  • I Dunt Want ItI Dunt Want It Alum Member
    111 karma

    One of my mentors did his Ph.D. and JD at the same time and recalls loving law school, however, he had no time outside the lab and the library (normal to have 50+ hr weeks in the lab plus law school). I thought about doing the same years ago right before completing my Ph.D., but there are restrictions based on who is funding your research, e.g. Could not have another commitment outside of the Ph.D., or even be enrolled in another degree-granting department.

    While not directly relevant to JD/MD some considerations are still the same.

  • noonawoonnoonawoon Alum Member
    3481 karma

    Medicine is competitive, even if you get into a joint program you'll be competing to get into certain practices (e.g., surgery) and get a residency and I imagine that devoting so much time to law would put you at a disadvantage over others.

    I also can't see how you would get much out of this. When you graduate, do you want to take the bar and practice as a lawyer or do you want to work as a surgeon? Why not go to the school of the career you're more interested in for the next decade. If you ever decide to do a career change, the other school will still be around.

  • Ms NikkiMs Nikki Alum Member
    128 karma

    @shanpseudo said:
    I have daydreams of being some kind of a surgeon/lawyer, but am unsure how feasible such a career would be. Has anyone read a case study of someone who has done both? Or is anyone actively pursuing a joint MD/JD, especially with interests in pursuing a career in medicine outside of medical law?

    So I have heard that this sort of background is good if you want to pursue medical malpractice law. It is a lot easier to understand the terminology and the tort if you have a medical background in the same way an engineering background helps in patent law. These cases are highly specialized, allowing for big bucks for those in the niche. You could defend surgeons or people who have been affected by medical malpractice. Insurance companies also need lawyers with this background.

    However, doing both medical practice and law at the same time seems very difficult. Perhaps consider pursuing the medical field first and then using that expertise towards a legal career. I've never met or heard of a lawyer or a doctor in the early stages of their career with a lot of time on their hands to do two completely unrelated jobs.

  • 410 karma

    @shanpseudo, actually, joint JD/MDs aren't terribly uncommon at all. A friend of mine is doing one right now, too, but she's planning on going into academia. I'm applying to joint JD/PhD programs in philosophy this cycle, also to go into academia. (Aside: if money is any consideration in your career choice, note that med school profs are some of the highest paid profs in the US, but, of course, whether one should ever do such a thing is an entirely different discussion, and typically profs aren't exactly in it for the money, given how little they tend to make for their level of education.)

    Outside of academia, folks with JD/MDs tend to practice in just one of their fields. But, of course, JD/MDs bring something to the table that their colleagues never could; depending on your specialty, you could be at a considerable advantage. There's no question over the benefits. While it sounds trite to say out loud, it really comes down to whether you really, really, I mean really, like school. MD programs, by themselves, can be soul-robbing, not to mention tacking on JD coursework. Joint programs do shave some time off, though, due to overlapping credits; it usually only takes about six years to complete both degrees. Moreover, you get a lot of freedom in switching back and forth, getting perhaps a much-needed break from either.

    I'd consider speaking with the program coordinators at some of the schools you're interested in. They've been really helpful with me. Best of luck!

  • 1000001910000019 Alum Member
    edited November 2019 3279 karma

    Unless you're an academic, it's a waste of time to actively complete both a JD and an MD. If you go to a school that offers a combined program, you save a year. But the program is absolutely brutal. There are zero fields where you need both degrees. Having both might put you at an advantage against someone that is equal in all respects minus the two degrees. But the considerable time and cost for both degrees is a big setback.

    I'm not sure what your use of a virgule denotes in "surgeon/lawyer." Once you finish a joint program, you elect to go into one field.

    Decide what job you want, and then enroll in the education necessary for that job. Law school is much less competitive to get into. But the career prospects for lawyers is less than doctors.

    If you have questions on the legal and law school aspect, I'm happy to answer questions.

  • Harvey DentHarvey Dent Alum Member
    81 karma

    Be wary of class rank. I would say it is wiser to graduate with better grades specializing in one field than “managing to get by” doing both.

    1L is hard enough as it is.

  • 410 karma

    @"Harvey Dent", at least for the joint programs that I'm aware of, first-year law students in joint programs take only law courses, since all 1Ls take the same courses. So while you're right to care about class rank, doing well as a 1L should have nothing to do with being in a joint program.

  • Chipster StudyChipster Study Yearly Member
    893 karma

    As a surgeon for many, many years who is planning on getting a JD, I would say to go for if it is part of your dream. Medical school and surgical residency is different now than when I did it before there were work hour restrictions. Even so, depending on what type of surgery you want to go into, it is four years of med school and 5-7 years of residency/fellowship if you do just the medical training. Your formal residency years are capped at 80 hrs/week in house. This does not include prep and study, etc. you do at home.

    Fellowships generally are not hours restricted so you can get into something like being on for every hour of an entire year like I was. Generally, the people who do well in surgery are the ones who can't be happy doing anything else. Surgery is especially a field that does not lend itself to part-time or intermittent work. You can't get malpractice insurance or credentialed at a hospital. I just can't see doing the formal surgical raining years and then not practicing full-time. I did 13 years of formal in house training - four medical school, six residency, three fellowship and I was in the middle of the training range. All of those years were 120/hrs week in house except the last one. It was tremendously competitive. It was my and my fellow trainees whole life.

    But hey, if you are still attracted to it - go for it.

  • vichinskyvichinsky Live Member
    495 karma

    University of Penn has that program a combined JD/MD look into it.

  • shanpseudoshanpseudo Member
    51 karma

    Thank you all for your insight! I will look into shadowing a surgeon to see how drawn I am to the field. Your advice has largely dissuaded me, for good reason. I am by no means a pure academic. While I do love academia, it is more important for me to have a steady income and time to pursue events outside of academia in my youth.

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