This week I completed my externship at Boston Children’s Hospital. When I started at Children’s as part of the Health Law Externship Program, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I thought that since I was working with Dianne McCarthy, Chief Counsel for Research Affairs, I’d be reviewing consent forms and protocols throughout the semester. It turned out to be so much more than that. I can honestly say that working at the Hospital was one of the most rewarding and educational experiences I’ve had while in law school.
As my supervisor, Dianne mentored me while I was at the Hospital. She allowed me to sit in on calls with her and attend all kinds of meetings, including those with the Institutional Review Board (or IRB), which is responsible for approving research protocols at the Hospital. We dealt with issues ranging from intellectual property disputes to cases of scientific misconduct. I had the opportunity to see both the legal side of things as well as the medical side. As someone who is very interested in health law, this was the perfect place to be.
Not only did I get the chance to learn from Dianne, but I was also fortunate enough to work with Suzanne Tannenbaum, who worked down the hall in the Office of General Counsel. Suzanne showed me what it was like to work on compliance matters and how to deal with conflicts of interest at the Hospital. I had no idea that amount of regulatory issues that there were, but after hearing first-hand from scientists looking to develop the next innovative treatment or technology I realized that navigating the complex web of rules and regulations was a very important task.
My experience at Children’s has only strengthened my interest in health law. I now know what it’s like to be a lawyer for an academic medical center, and I can say that it is very much something I would like to do in the future. Every day is a new adventure, you get to work with great people, and you have the chance to help advance the field of medicine while improving the lives of others. There’s really nothing else like it.