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GME Best Practices: Law and Medicine course

In the 2019 spring semester, Penn State Law agreed to offer a course designed by Dr. Joseph Wiedemer on Law and Medicine.

Usually, the first encounter between law and medicine is during litigation rather than in a learning environment. In this interprofessional course with Penn State Health Family and Community Medicine residents and Penn State Law students, participants examined the educational experience at the intersection of law and medicine in tort cases.

The group explored the medical and legal perspectives, defined terms, discussed methods and outlined systems and techniques in each respective profession.

Family and Community Medicine residents in State College were asked to apply to be a part of this first-time course at Penn State Law. Seven residents and 15 law students enrolled. The students met on Tuesday evenings from 6 to 9 p.m. at various locations. A local medical malpractice defense attorney, Allen Neely, co-taught the course. Neely taught the legal aspects, and Wiedemer taught or coordinated speakers for the medicine topics.

The program attempted to alternate weeks, with one week being focused on law and the opposite week focused on a medical topic.

The topics included:

  • Gross anatomy, with students going to Penn State’s wet lab for dissection of four cadavers
  • Medical research, with a discussion on how physicians find clinical answers and which resources physicians find valuable
  • How to approach the electronic health record
  • Compliance and risk
  • Operations of a hospital, with a tour of the local hospital
  • Operations of outpatient clinical practices
  • A panel of physicians who had been in medical malpractice cases and what their experience was like
  • A presentation by an expert witness
  • A presentation by a plaintiff’s attorney, Andy Stern

The course ended with four mock trials; all were the same case, with residents and students taking the roles of defense or plaintiff’s experts. Witnesses included residents who participated in the course and medical students and residents who did not participate in the course.

Residents who participated in the course found the experience valuable, and they had more confidence and felt more prepared for their roles in the mock trial than students and residents who did not participate in the course.

Penn State Law received positive feedback from students and asked Penn State Health to offer the course in the 2020 spring semester.

Internal users can view a PowerPoint about the course in the GME Best Practices folder on the network drive.

With questions, contact Dr. Joseph Wiedemer at

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