Professor strives to develop state of medical law

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Professor strives to develop state of medical law

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Bruce Patsner

Bruce Patsner, 58, an authority on medical law, was appointed as a full professor at Yonsei University’s School of Law in March.

“Compared to the high level of medical treatment in Korea, the field of medical law seems to be less developed,” said Patsner, who came to Korea in February. “As a law professor and medical doctor, I will work with doctors and legal professionals in Korea and help develop the field of medical law in this country.”

Prior to assuming his current position, Patsner worked as an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology and gynecologic oncology at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, which he graduated from in 1979.

But when he injured his hand in an accident, he was no longer able to perform surgery. But instead of falling into despair, Patsner began studying law and received a doctorate in law at the Berkeley School of Law in 2003. He then worked as a senior medical officer at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration until 2007.

Patsner currently teaches classes on international food regulations and drug law, bioethics and medical malpractice law.

His lectures this semester have focused on topics such as abortion, euthanasia and malpractice, which have long been controversial issues in developed countries.

“Medical law in Korea is relatively underdeveloped so it is important to nurture professionals in this field immediately,” Patsner said. In fact, only 1.5 percent of law school candidates in 25 law schools in Korea have a degree in medicine or pharmacy.

Shim Young, a vice principal of Yonsei University’s law school, said, “Dr. Patsner is in an ideal position to nurture legal professionals with an international perspective in the field of medicine.”

One of Patsner’s students expressed her enthusiasm about having him as a teacher. “There were so many students trying to enroll in Professor Patsner’s classes. The competition rate was high,” said Kim Hye-yoon, 26. “Hearing lectures on both medicine and law from a professional was the biggest advantage [to attending his classes].”

Patsner, in describing his education philosophy, said he hopes to stimulate critical thinking among his students through inquiry and debate.

“I want to run classes in the Socratic method of asking and answering questions and establishing a connection with my students,” he said.


By Kim Hye-mi [sharon@joongang.co.kr]
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