A call for dual degrees: Medicine and Law



Part 2

LAST week, we wrote about popular trends across borders for dual/double degree programs, also referred to as combined degree, conjoint degree, joint degree, simultaneous degree, or double graduation. These labels point to certain variations in pairing degree programs considering their disciplinary complementarity and their academic level (baccalaureate, graduate, post-graduate). Whatever are the variations, whether both degrees are taken in the same institution or in another, there are always agreed guidelines—policies on admission, progression, retention and graduation and curricular/course requirements, among others. Clarity of these guidelines and their compliance ensure reduced time of one to two years to complete the programs, compared to when taken separately, even as the traditional non-double degree programs of an institution remain open for other students.

Pairing dual/double degrees on the same academic level. There are many variations in pairing degrees on the same academic level. Baccalaureate degrees in the arts and sciences have common required general education courses. Hence, pairing them would obviously shorten the time to complete both degrees such as an AB in History paired with an AB in Political Science or with an AB in Literature. Dual/double degree should not be confused with a single degree but with a double or more majors. Another example of dual/double degree, referred to as conjoint degrees, would be the AB-BSE or the AB-BSEE which, if taken separately, runs to five years instead of six or seven years. (Such as that offered by XU–Ateneo de Cagayan in the late 1960s—noted in Part 1, last week’s column.) A major or majors may be taken under either degree or under both degrees. For example, a major in English and History is offered under both AB and BSE curricula; however, mathematics and general science are majors only under BSE. A dual/double degree student may like to take additional majors offered under BSE. This is very possible, subject to compliance to academic policies (prerequisites, required minimum final marks, etc). As an aside, I underwent what I would call quasi-conjoint degrees. After earning an AB, my father, seeing that I could complete BSE in just two more years had me pursue BSE rather than accept a job offer. For a total of six years, I earned an AB major in English and a BSE with three other majors. At the time we had a quarterly term of 12 units maximum. Eleven years later, I landed an Arts and Sciences deanship as the first lay person to hold such designation in a Philippine Jesuit university. My multiple majors (I learned) were one reason. Indeed, God writes straight in crooked lines!

Pairing with an equivalent or higher academic level. Pairing post-baccalaureate with a graduate-level degree (an equivalent level) may also have some parallel courses common to both degrees. An LLB-MBA would have common Business Law courses in both degrees. Pairing professional degrees such as an MD-LLB or an MD-JD, qualifies a graduate to acquire licenses as a physician-lawyer. Post-baccalaureate/professional degrees can also pair with a masters such as MD–MPH (Public Health) or MD-MHSM (Healthcare Systems Management) or pair with a doctorate—MD-PhD (biological sciences) or MD-DHSM (Doctor in Healthcare Systems Management).

A JD-MBA dual/double degree in the Philippines. In the five instead of six years Juris Doctor-MBA dual program at De la Salle University with Far Eastern University, “DLSU provides a management education that Prepares graduates for results-oriented decision-making.” The FEU-IL (Institute of Law) provides students with the legal and analytical tools needed to understand how law affects business and management decisions. The dual-degree program prepares students to “approach problems from the perspectives of both a business executive and a lawyer.” With a rigid practicum, this program “provides students with the knowledge and skills necessary to excel in two interrelated disciplines and to understand the interrelationships between them.” <http://www.dlsu.edu.ph/academics/colleges/cob/mod/programs.asp>.

Common features of dual/double degree programs. Whatever are the pairing combinations of dual/double degree programs, there are three features common to all. One, both degrees will be completed at a shorter time than when the degrees are taken separately. Two, to stay in such programs, a good level of academic progress by students has to be maintained. Three, students gain significant qualifications, the fact that they are trained in complementary worlds (as in medicine and law/management or business and medicine) “allowing them to more successfully navigate the areas in which the two worlds meet.” This is very obvious in the MD-MBA. “Business training is becoming more and more important within medicine with the rise of cost containment efforts. Additionally, scientific training is invaluable in areas of business that deal with technological products, particularly given the recent rise of genomics and the explosion of the biotech industry.”

<http://www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/reporter/index.html?ID=1416>. Similarly, MD-JD graduates, as physicians-lawyers, “would have a fertile ground for medico-legal collaborations since a great many legal rules dominate medical practice.” They are “conversant with the legal framework that situates and influences medical practice for all physicians and physicians-in-training and can integrate legal concepts into their applications of medical knowledge and practice of clinical judgment, learn and appreciate how medical knowledge could inform legal judgment and strategies as attorneys.” Furthermore, they are “well-informed on other legal matters such as contracts, risk management, scope of practice,” and the like. <http://www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/reporter/index.html?ID=1416>.

Let’s hope for such initiatives we badly need from our premier Schools of Medicine and Schools of Law.
(Next week: some sample courses in dual degrees)

Email: ttumapon@liceo.edu.ph


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