June 28, 2010
Renee DeGross Valdes, 404-413-1353
Doctors and lawyers might seem like natural adversaries, but under a program launched by Georgia State professor Charity Scott, they are working as allies to help fix legal issues affecting disadvantaged children who have health problems.
In the last several years, the College of Law professor helped to set up the Health Law Partnership (HeLP) with GSU colleagues and the Atlanta Legal Aid Society at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, creating a model for collaborations elsewhere in the state and in the U.S. The partnership assists low income children whose health and care depends on solving legal problems, such as negotiating with a landlord to repair mold in an apartment after it triggered a child’s asthma.
“HeLP addresses social and economic barriers to health,” said Scott, director of the College of Law’s Center for Center for Law, Health and Society. “This is a collaboration to show how doctors and lawyers can work together to solve problems.”
It’s not the only instance where Scott mixes the professions. She also teaches medical ethics and health law to graduate students and health professionals outside the law school.
“A lot of conflicts arise just out of basic human interactions,” Scott said. “Personal disagreements can give rise to ethical conflicts, which in turn can give rise to legal controversies. So if you back up, you can possibly avoid legal tensions before they skyrocket out of control.”
Scott recently put her interest in alternative dispute resolution to the test. She just completed a Master of Science degree in conflict management.
Her interest in conflict resolution led her to study and incorporate improvisation comedy techniques into her teaching.
“A lot of techniques of relating to people in comedy are positive, upbeat, constructive, and move the ball forward,” Scott said. “I stand up every week and think of my class as theater. To a point, I go with the flow.”
Under the direction of Scott, the Center for Law, Health and Society has grown into a top health law program in the U.S. This past spring, U.S. News & World Report ranked the program No. 4 in the nation, making it the fourth year in a row it made the top 10 list.
The Center for Law, Health and Society is also adding new faculty members. The hires are part of GSU’s Second Century Initiative, which aims to hire 100 new faculty members over the next five years as the university looks to build high impact scholarly strength in research themes.
“These hires will give us a huge boost for the development of the program,” Scott said. “It will bring our interdisciplinary work to the next level.”