The Delaware J.D. Health Law Externship Program at Widener Law affords J.D. students the opportunity to launch a legal career before having finished their education.
Since 2007, the Health Law Externship Program provides students with an array of subject matters that interrelate with health law. These have included: health care compliance issues, long-term care, elder law, corporate law (health care organization as a client), ethics, tort law, risk management, veterans law, patient safety and hospital regulations, contracts, Medicare and Medicaid, healthcare violence, HIPAA, STARK II violations, litigation, corporate integrity agreements and telemedicine issues.
Health Law Externs are placed at regional hospitals, in offices of in-house counsel working in risk management and patient safety, and with ethics committees; at pharmaceutical companies, in offices of in-house counsel working on compliance, litigation and contracts; at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, working in risk assessment, research and with the Office of Patient Safety and Protocol; at the Emergency Care Research Institute, working in risk management, research, contracts and with the Federal Health Care Center liaison; and with the Delaware State Legislature working on medical regulations including: emergency room guidelines, civil and criminal liability for noncompliance with state reporting policies, researching new statutes and providing feedback to the State Representative and attending meetings with the Delaware State Legislature. Health Law Externship Program Management How Students Are Supervised
Supervision of students in the Health Law Externship commences before the students are placed in an externship opportunity. Students interested in a Health Law Externship must contact the Externship Director of their interest the semester before applying. The Externship Director will determine if the prerequisites for JD students of (1) at least a 2.7 GPA, (2) successful completion of LAW 702 Professional Responsibility with a “C” or better, and (3) have taken LAW 709 Health Law I (Liability and Quality) or LAW 710 Health Law II (Regulating the Health Care Industry). If these criteria have been met, students interested in a Health Law Externship are required to meet with the Externship Director who will review the student resumes and discuss the criteria of the externship and potential placement opportunities. As part of this meeting, students must submit, in writing, their personal and professional objectives for the externship and career goals. These will be further discussed and utilized for placement decisions.
The objectives of the externship are fully explained during the meeting, such as the criteria for the number of hours at the externship, responsibility to report to the supervising attorney at the placement, class meetings, online assignments, and reflective paper. The Externship Director will discuss with the students the various field placements that would best suit their needs. When the Externship Director and students agree to a placement the Externship Director will forward a copy of the student’s resume to the sponsor, who is also a practicing attorney. If the resume is approved by the sponsor, he/she will contact the student for an interview. This process provides students with interview skills and the opportunity to meet the sponsor and staff, and become familiar with the facility. The interview also provides direct feedback between the student and the sponsor which provides both the opportunity to decline the placement if their expectations are not met.
When a sponsor offer has been accepted by the student, the students is required to sign and present a Clinical Credit Approval
(.pdf) to Prof. Grena for either 2 or 3 course credits, a Memorandum of Understanding
(.docx) for the externship as well as a student Externship Authorization
(.docx).The sponsor is provided with the criteria for the externship (.docx). He/She also receives a Memorandum of Agreement (.docx) outlining the responsibilities for accepting a health law extern. The sponsor then completes a Placement Plan (.docx) outlining the objectives and type of work that shall be completed by the extern. The objectives in the Plan provide for experienced based education and practical skills training. The supervision also includes responsibility of assigning appropriately challenging work under his/her supervision which may take the form of review of drafts, discussion of noteworthy practical, substantive and ethical skills, as well as mutual objectives for the externship. The sponsor is required to complete both a mid-term (.pdf) evaluation and final evaluation (.pdf) of the students’ performances on the prescribed evaluation tools provided by the Externship Director.
The Externship Director is available at all times to both the students and the sponsor to discuss the placement and any comments and concerns from either party. Students are encouraged to contact the Externship Director and provide weekly updates. In addition, students are required to attend six (6) classroom discussions as well as two (2) individual meetings to review their mid-term and final evaluations. Students must complete a ten (10) page reflective writing paper. The reflective paper requires use of the original objectives for choosing the externships placement, the placement plan and outcomes discussed with the sponsor during the mid-term and final evaluation meeting.
How Students Receive Feedback
Students receive feedback from multiple sources throughout the semesters. Their initial feedback is from their sponsor. Students are encouraged to meet with their supervisor weekly and provide updates of their accomplishments in return for feedback on work product and skill development. Students also receive feedback from the Externship Director, as well as the peers in their class, during their externship meetings. Discussions range from negotiation tactics, legal reasoning and research assignments, working cooperatively with others as a team, factual investigation, organization of notes and work product to professionalism. Students also receive feedback in mid semester and at the end of their externship during their meeting with their sponsor. This opportunity provides a method to review objectives, skill sets and discuss any concerns. Students discuss future goals and resume updates for their next placement opportunity with their Externship Director. The Externship Director further provides comments and feedback through the return of the reflective paper.
Accountability of Sponsors
The accountability of the sponsor commences with the signing of the supervising attorney’s Memorandum of Agreement and the development of the Placement Plan. The Placement Plan outlines the objectives discussed with the extern, the sponsor’s responsibility for supervision as well as the method of evaluation. The Plan details the type of work expected to be completed by the extern. This accountability includes assigning the student (140) hours per semester of appropriately challenging work under his/her supervision. The sponsor is also required to complete both a mid-term and final evaluation of the students’ performances on prescribed evaluation tools from the Externship Director and provide feedback to the externs both on a weekly basis as well as through the evaluation tools.
Students receive a Pass/ Fail grade based on a variety of criteria. These include successful completion of the course requirements which consist of weekly threaded discussions, participation in the class meetings, and strength of the reflective paper assignment. The grading criteria take into strong consideration the mid-term and final evaluations of the sponsor.
Director: Professor Eileen A. Grena