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Meet Dr. Bill Naber: Working at the Intersection of Law and Medicine

The worlds of medicine and law are often seen as in conflict.  It seems that several times each year there is a big news story about a pharmaceutical company that made a bad drug, or about a local doctor involved in some shady practices.  But in many ways, the worlds of law and medicine are very much connected—for the better.  Lawyers not only defend doctors in certain difficult situations or work in-house at large pharmaceutical companies, but they also help advise hospitals and smaller practitioners on what they need to do to stay on the right side of the law.  On the other side of the same coin, lawyers, like everyone else, often need the healthcare and expertise that only doctors can provide.  There are approaches about healthy living that doctors know best just as there are strategies about healthcare law that lawyers know best. 

There are some individuals, however, who are equipped to bring a unique perspective to both fields because they work in both professions.  Dr. William Naber ’11 is an example.   Dr. Naber grew up in Cincinnati before attending the University of Dayton for his undergraduate studies. A pre-med major, he graduated and went directly into medical school at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.  He graduated with his M.D. in 1993 and completed a three-year residency before transitioning into an emergency medicine practice.  Dr. Naber practiced medicine in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania for one year, and then for eight years in upstate New York.  In 2005 he and his family decided to return to Cincinnati.  It was around this time that he began considering gaining another degree.  “I didn’t know I wanted to go to law school when I was first starting out as a doctor,” he explained.  “But I knew that as I got further along in my career that continuing to be an ER doctor would become more difficult.”  He said that with the difficulties of scheduling and long, overnight shifts that you just simply don’t see very many older ER doctors.  This provided him with motivation to find a way into the administrative side of healthcare.  “I looked at those in positions similar to what I might be interested in doing and saw a variety of degrees,” he shared, “but there was a notable absence of doctors who also had law degrees.  I saw it as an opportunity to bring something unique to the table.”

Pursuing a JD

After a few years of hard thinking and talking to people in the field who had both degrees, Naber decided to pursue his law degree.  He took his LSAT (which he said was much more challenging than the MCAT!), and was accepted to UC Law.  Here he participated in the Flexible Time Program, through which he was able to continue working while being enrolled as a part-time law student.  The program allowed Naber to graduate with his juris doctor in four years. 

Since graduating in 2011, Dr. Naber has been able to transition his professional life to a point where he now works more in the legal/administrative side than he does practicing in the ER.  Today, he is the medical staff president at West Chester Hospital and is a medical director at University of Cincinnati Medical Center and West Chester Hospital.  In his capacity as a medical director he works in case management, utilization review, and in clinical documentation improvement.  Additionally, Naber teaches as an associate professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the College of Medicine, teaching and lecturing both residents and medical students.

How an MD Impacts Legal Training…and Vice Versa

When asked how having a MD has given him a unique viewpoint on legal issues, Dr. Naber noted specifically that he can see how regulations change and influence real-life practices.  “It helps me to be able to put these complex legal concepts into real world scenarios.”  To students who may be considering the possibility of attaining both a JD and a MD, Bill cautioned that it is a decision to consider very carefully.  “Before pursuing both degrees, pick one and see, down the road, if getting the other is something you still need to do,” he said.  Noting that each degree can be quite expensive to achieve, he advised that any bump in pay might not be as big as you might think to make it economically feasible.  With careful planning, however, and considering it from all angles, attaining both a JD and MD is very much possible.