KU News Service

KU medical, law student collaboration expanded

Fri, 02/08/2013

LAWRENCE — A partnership between the University of Kansas School of Law and the KU Medical Center is preparing students from both disciplines to understand and appreciate the importance of the other, all while serving community members who need medical and legal assistance.

Students of the School of Law’s Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic provide free legal services to the low-income patients of the KU Medical Center’s Department of Family Medicine. This spring, the MLP Clinic will expand its interdisciplinary coursework through participation in Studio Pop, a part of the Interprofessional Teaching Clinic that pairs medical and legal students both in the classroom and the community.

The students will continue to help low-income individuals in the Kansas City area get the medical and legal help they need and now will spend more time together in the classroom to further their education and understanding of the inherent importance of collaboration.

Katie Cronin“Hopefully by the time these students graduate they will understand how medicine and law can work together to improve patient outcomes,” said Katie Cronin, clinical associate professor of law and courtesy professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the KU Medical Center. “We’re doing offering our students a unique opportunity to collaborate across disciplines to provide holistic patient care that addresses both medical needs and the social determinants of health.”

The Interprofessional Teaching Clinic provides a setting in which medicine, pharmacy and nursing students see patients six mornings a week and law students consult with the patients as legal issues arrive. This spring, law students will take part in the Studio Pop, a seminar in which medicine, nursing, pharmacy and now law students discuss cases they’ve seen throughout the week. The students share how they served individual patients and brainstorm how they can improve patient care through their collaborative efforts.

Dr. Jana Zaudke“The students gain insight into each others' training and profession, and through this, they gain respect for each others' expertise. We learn how to talk with one another without using the jargon associated with each professional culture,” said Dr. Jana Zaudke, assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine. “In doing this, we have a chance to reach out to one another as human
beings and professionals, all for the sake of a common goal, our patients.”

The students also take their services to the community, doing in-home visits with individuals who have complex medical/legal issues and assembling inter-disciplinary teams to serve others in similar situations. Law students have assisted people in end-of-life legal care, such as establishing powers of attorney and drafting living wills as well as situations where the medical and legal connection is not as obvious. Individuals who have not sought medical attention because of immigration issues or lack of insurance have worked with students in the partnership.

The MLP Clinic has even provided representation in immigration proceedings for victims of human trafficking, an area in which the clinic hopes to increase its focus in coming years. Legal representation can help victims of human trafficking obtain work permits and resources to become independent and leave forced sex trade or other forced labor behind.

“It’s really about developing champions within the medical community who can identify legal issues that are impacting health,” Cronin said. “The medical students are able to share how the MLP Clinic was able to help their patients, and they become excited to refer others. The MLP Clinic students gain a good knowledge base for whatever area of law they go into, whether it’s health-related or not. They learn how to work up a case, communicate with clients and see the law at work, helping people to improve their lives and the lives of their families.”

There are often barriers to individuals receiving the care they need. The MLP Clinic and the Interprofessional Teaching Clinic have allowed students to learn how to break down those barriers by working together.

“Patients often have problems we are not trained to address. Often, these problems — financial, safety, housing, immigration, disability — have to be addressed before our medical therapies even have a chance,” Zaudke said. “One option is to remain blind to the 'hidden problems' of our patients, and recommend the standard therapies no matter the patient context. The other option is to remain open to the patient and meet them where they are. The first option can be one of denial and pessimism. The second option, while effective and real, can lead to distress. Distress is mitigated by partnerships with other professions. When we work as teams, the patients’ needs are addressed on multiple levels that matter.”

Wanna Skype? Chancellor gets creative to surprise Truman winner. See it here:
Rock Chalk! Junior Ashlie Koehn named KU's 18th Truman Scholar
Ashlie Koehn, a University of Kansas junior from Burns studying in Kyrgyzstan, interrupted helping her host family prepare dinner to make a Skype call on Monday evening.

.@KU bschool 's KIP team includes @KU _SADP students in all-ages housing project. #KUworks
Wanna Skype? Chancellor gets creative to surprise Truman winner From KU News Service: Ashlie Koehn, a University of Kansas junior from Burns studying in Kyrgyzstan, interrupted helping her host family prepare dinner to make a Skype call on Monday evening. To her surprise, Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little was on the other end of the call letting Koehn know she had been named a 2015 Harry S. Truman Scholar. Koehn is the 18th KU student to be named a Truman Scholar and the only 2015 recipient from the state of Kansas. Earlier this month, she was also named a 2015 Udall Scholar. And in spite of a distance of more than 10,800 kilometers and 11 time zones, Koehn’s thrill from hearing the news from the chancellor came through loud and clear. “Ashlie’s experience at KU epitomizes a quality undergraduate experience. She challenged herself in her coursework, exposed herself to different research opportunities, studied abroad in Germany, Switzerland and Kyrgyzstan, and participated in both student government and community service projects,” Gray-Little said. “This is quite a year for Ashlie. Her hard work is a wonderful reflection on her and also a great reflection on the university, and we all congratulate her.” Each new Truman Scholar receives up to $30,000 for graduate study. Scholars also receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and special internship opportunities within the federal government. Koehn, a member of KU’s nationally recognized University Honors Program, is majoring in environmental studies, economics and international studies. Her goal after earning her KU degree is to pursue a master’s degree in economics at either the London School of Economics or the University of Reading, with a focus on the economics of climate change. In 2014, she received KU’s Newman Civic Engagement Award for her work establishing the Coalition against Slavery and Trafficking. Her involvement with the issue was sparked by Hannah Britton, associate professor of political science and women, gender, and sexuality studies, who hosted national conference on contemporary slavery at KU three years ago. “Ashlie and I met several times to think about what KU students could contribute to the issue of slavery and human trafficking, and the result was her founding of KU CAST,” Britton said. “After a year as president, Ashlie successfully handed the organization over to the next student leader. She demonstrated her strong leadership qualities by setting a unique goal and then pursuing it with her sense of passion, engagement and dedication. No matter the country or context, her leadership strength is evident in her coursework, her public service and her work experiences.” The University Honors Program works with a campus committee to select KU’s nominees for the Truman Scholarship and supports them during the application process. Anne Wallen, assistant director of national fellowships and scholarships, noted it was an amazing ruse to pull off the surprise. Originally, the call was set up to be between Wallen and Koehn. “I was totally not prepared to be greeted by Chancellor Gray-Little, but it was an amazing surprise for sure,” Koehn said. “As a first-generation student, it took time to learn the collegiate system, but my parents taught me to be resourceful and independent from a young age and KU and the Kansas Air National Guard have provided me with the opportunities to drive me into the future, both at graduate school and in my career. I plan to use the Truman Scholarship to pursue a career as an environmental economist helping to shape future trade agreements and leverage action on important international environmental issues, particularly concerning climate change.” Koehn also had a surprise of her own for the chancellor — the meal she was helping to prepare was not exactly typical Kansas dinner fare. On the menu with her host family in Kyrgyzstan on Monday was a traditional Kyrgyz meal called Beshbarmak, or “five fingers,” because you eat it with your hands. The dish is made of horse and sheep and was being prepared as a birthday celebration for Koehn’s host mom. Chancellor Gray-Little, as she signed off from Skype, made sure to encourage Koehn to enjoy her Beshbarmak. Koehn is the daughter of Rodney and Carolyn Koehn of Burns. She graduated from Fredric Remington High School in Moundridge. She is an active member of the Kansas Air National Guard and currently on leave while studying abroad in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. She is a member of the KU Global Scholars Program and a past member of the Student Senate. In addition to being named a 2015 Truman and Udall scholar, she was named a 2014 Boren Scholar and Gilman Scholar and in 2013 was named the Kansas Air National Guard Airman of the Year.

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