By Kendra Brown for BiolawToday.org.
For the 2015-2016 academic year I had the incredible opportunity to work as a Biolaw Fellow for the Center for Law and Biomedical Sciences. My fellowship worked in conjunction with my position as the Student Director of the Medical-Legal Clinic through S.J. Quinney’s Pro Bono Initiative. The Medical-Legal Clinic provides free brief legal advice to low income families with legal issues that have an impact on the social determinants of health (“SDOH”). The SDOH are the “conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age.” The SDOH are “shaped by the distribution of money, power and resources . . . [which] are mostly responsible for health inequities – the unfair and avoidable differences in health status seen within and between countries.” At the Medical-Legal Clinic we assist with landlord-tenant issues, debt collection, disability, family law, etc., as one positive step in the direction of reducing the disparity in social health outcomes for these individuals and families.
It has been my responsibility and pleasure to promote greater awareness of the clinic in order to help a greater number of people with their legal issues. The goal of this fellowship is to work towards establishing a Medical Legal Partnership (“MLP”) with one of the hospitals. The Medical Legal Partnership began in Boston where physicians understood the impact that legal issues have on their patients’ health. The MLPs have full time staff attorneys and directors located in hospitals that work with patients leaving the hospital or critical care units to ensure that these patients are returning to sanitary housing conditions that will help with, and not hinder, their recovery. Currently there are 292 health care institutions in 36 states with MLPs. We would like Utah to be the next state.
As a Biolaw Fellow I was also given the opportunity to work closely with Professor Francis and Professor Brown on bioethics topics. The reason I accepted my admittance to the S.J. Quinney College of Law was to at least have the opportunity to apply to be a fellow for the Center for Law and Biomedical Sciences with the hope of performing research on bioethics topics and to work closely with these incredible experts. The research is always fascinating and it is a great experience to be part of Professor Francis and Professor Brown’s work that has an impact on so many people.
I look forward to another years as a Biolaw Fellow and to see how the Center for Law and Biomedical Sciences takes off.
Kendra is currently a second year student at the S.J. Quinney College of Law and is a member of the Utah Law Review as well as the Student Director for the Medical-Legal Clinic. Kendra graduated from the University of Utah in 2009 with a B.A. in History after transferring from Colorado State University. Kendra loves to travel, scuba dive, and play soccer.
 What Are The Social Determinants Of Health?, World Health Organization (last visited June 7, 2016) http://www.who.int/social_determinants/sdh_definition/en/.