Bringing together health care and the law

Virginia Tonelli, Denise Hill and John Retzlaff say health and law often cross paths.

In the intertwined worlds of health care and the law, knowledge isn’t just power; it’s imperative. To help its students gain that knowledge, in addition to course offerings, last fall DMU became the first master of health care administration program to sign an alliance agreement with the American Health Lawyers Association (AHLA), the nation’s largest nonpartisan educational organization devoted to legal issues in health care with more than 10,000 members.

Cost of the student membership is $15 per year – a bargain, says Assistant Professor Denise Hill, J.D., M.B.A., the faculty adviser to the new student group.

“As a full-time professor teaching health law and ethics to health professionals, I can think of no better way to expose my students to realities of health law than to open access to the resources and events available through membership with AHLA,” she says.

M.H.A. student John Retzlaff, co-founder of the DMU group, says the alliance will build upon the relationship between DMU and Drake University Law School by bringing together students and faculty of both. In 2008, DMU and Drake created a partnership to allow DMU’s M.H.A. and master of public health program students and Drake law students to transfer up to 18 academic credits between the two institutions.

“The club vision is to lead efforts in creating the opportunity for education and discussion among and between students with career impact upon the legal and health fields,” Retzlaff says.

That will enrich the diversity in DMU’s M.H.A. and M.P.H. programs and students, says group co-founder and M.H.A. student Virginia Tonelli. Designed for working professionals, both programs can be completed through on-campus courses, online courses or a mix of both.

“Not only am I learning the practical side of health care administration from professionals in the field around my schedule,” Tonelli says, “I have been able to meaningfully interact with students from diverse backgrounds around the world.”

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