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Gaining insight beyond the classroom

Gaining insight beyond the classroom

Students enrolled in Loyola’s Access to Health Care Seminar traveled to Portsmouth, Ohio, in March to meet with lawyers, judges, health care professionals, government officials, and recovering addicts, to learn firsthand about the opioid epidemic and ways the state of Ohio is approaching solutions to the complex public health epidemic.  

Legal and regulatory strategies

Opioid overdoses are the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50.  As a result, the crisis has led to complicated legal and regulatory measures governing the use of opioids. Specialized dockets to confront reoccurring criminal behavior, and a barrage of lawsuits filed against manufacturers of opioid prescription drugs in an effort to gain more effective control over unsafe distribution, are among the strategies state agencies have adopted to address the problem.

Learning through real-life study

The Access to Health Care Seminar is offered during the spring semester to examine a specific health care issue and concludes with a trip during spring break. “The field study is an important component of the seminar because it allows students to gain in-depth knowledge of the issue outside the classroom through real-life study,” said Larry Singer, associate dean for online learning and director of the Beazley Institute for Health Law and Policy. "To speak with individuals who have battled opioid addiction, as well as those who are working around the clock to help solve this devastating health crisis that has crippled communities across the nation, was truly a transformative learning experience for all of us." 

Community immersion

Singer, who has taught the seminar for the past eight years and led the trip to Ohio with Ron Hochbaum, a clinical teaching fellow with Loyola’s Health Justice Project, has traveled with students in recent years to Appalachia to study disparities in health care, and McAllen, Texas, where students examined the issues surrounding access to health care for undocumented persons.

“The trip to Ohio was extremely helpful in providing a clearer picture of the opioid epidemic in our country,” said Emma Garl Smith, a 2L at Loyola who attended the field study. “In additional to learning about the crisis, we were moved by the strength of the opioid survivors we talked with, the strong sense of community in Portsmouth despite the challenges, and the beauty of the area—so it was a meaningful experience in multiple ways.”