Charleston Law students participate in MUSC Presidential Scholars Day

Presidential Scholars Day was held at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) on Monday evening.  The program brings together students from MUSC’s six colleges plus Charleston School of Law to explore the complex social, political, and human issues that shape the delivery of health care services in South Carolina and the nation.

“It was a great opportunity to work with people from the different colleges of MUSC to learn about medical conditions and the barriers that come with them, along with how the legal system and particular laws and funding can impact how people have access to care,” said Charleston Law student Colin Read. “I was able to gain knowledge about what is working well and what could be improved. Ultimately, it gave me inspiration to push on in a legal career that works to make these improvements.”

The year-long program provides students from diverse disciplines—medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, law, nursing, and allied health professions— an opportunity to collaborate and learn about the contributions each makes to an “interprofessional network” in health care delivery.

“The Presidential Scholars program is a wonderful collaboration between Charleston School of Law  and the MUSC,” said Dean Larry Cunningham. “The students made excellent presentations on a variety of health care-related topics. I learned a lot.”

Four interdisciplinary teams (three of which had law students) made presentations on topics related to the social determinants of health. Charleston Law students Zachary Pairman, Colin Read, and Matthew (Clay) Pritchard participated in the program.

Charleston School of Law 3L Zachary Pairman said his project focused on the social determinants of health concerning HIV treatment and transmission. “Many of the barriers to care that exist for HIV testing and prevention can be alleviated through policy changes such as increased funding for free public testing or free and easy access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (commonly known as PrEP)” he said. “In addition, a significant barrier to testing and treatment is the stigmatization of same-sex relationships which prevent individuals from getting tested, but also being open and honest with their health care providers. Lawyers can help decrease the stigmatization by advocating against legislative changes which further stigmatize same sex relationships.”

“The program allowed me to gain experience working with professionals in fields other than legal,” said Pairman. “This was extremely valuable for me as it allowed me to gain insights into how other professions think about problems. Throughout the experience I was surprised to learn how much the legal field and the medical field intersect. The medical and legal world all seek to enhance the quality of life for people and to advance their interests. Being a part of this program has helped prepare me to work in the legal field by enhancing my ability to advocate and educate myself on topics which I may lack a firm understanding in. The law truly touches so many different aspects of life and this program allowed me to expand my understanding of the role a lawyer plays in society.”

Professor Nancy Zisk served as the faculty scholar for the law school, marking the 17th year that she has served the program.

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