Erin Furlong (’05) Describes Benefits of Joint Degree

November 9, 2011

In the fall 2011 issue of With Equal Right, Erin Furlong (‘05) shares her experiences and the advantages of obtaining a joint J.D. and M.P.H. degree through the Law School’s Joint Degree Program in Law, Health, & the Life Sciences.

“During my 1L year, I occasionally wondered what I was going to do with some of the ‘core’ courses when I started practice,” Furlong says in her essay. “But as soon as I started work on my master’s degree, I started to see the connections.”

Furlong enrolled in the Joint Degree Program in 2002 and received the 2002-03 Harold M. Fredrikson Memorial Scholarship, established by Fredrikson & Byron, which fully covered tuition at the School of Public Health for her M.P.H. coursework.

During law school Furlong, among other things, volunteered with the Minnesota Disability Law Center, held an Executive Pathways internship at the Minnesota Department of Human Services Continuing Care for the Elderly and Aging Divisions, and clerked for the Minnesota State Bar Association’s Elder Law Section.

After completing her J.D./M.P.H. degree in 2005, she held a 2005 summer internship at the ABA’s Commission on Law and Aging in Washington, D.C., and was a Law School legal writing instructor for a year. She was hired as an associate general counsel at Medica and worked there through the summer of 2007, then joined medical-device company American Medical Systems as an associate business attorney and stayed through the summer of 2010. Both companies are located in the Twin Cities area.

Now a cardiovascular compliance counsel at Boston Scientific Corp., Furlong says in her essay that because she “spent years thinking about unique intersections between law, science and policy,” she often sees angles that others might miss.

“In my practice today, while I’m not implementing large-scale public health campaigns, I have a solid understanding of how policy shapes laws and the roles of the respective players within the larger healthcare system,” she says. “My professional practice has been in-house with healthcare organizations, which I serve by applying my knowledge and skill sets to help them comply with law and fulfill their missions.”

Furlong says she has always been happy that she chose the joint-degree path and is “passionate about the benefits of cross-disciplinary learning, especially in our increasingly complex world.” She adds, “If students are interested, enthusiastic and willing to put in a little extra work, I almost always encourage them to pursue a joint degree.”

The Joint Degree Program, directed by Prof. Susan Wolf, offers interdisciplinary study in several health and life science fields, including public health, medicine, pharmacology, and health care administration. All joint degree students participate in an interdisciplinary seminar each fall, facilitating a continuing exchange of ideas on emerging topics.

With Equal Right is the official journal of Minnesota Women Lawyers. To read the full article, go to

To learn more about the Law School’s Joint Degree Program, to go

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