Medical malpractice is big business in the United States. It is estimated that there are at least a quarter million lawyers that specialize in malpractice cases. This has made the need for legal nurse consultants increase dramatically.
If you are entering nursing school and want to specialize or are a registered nurse who would like to make a change, you should read on to find out how to obtain legal nurse consultant training.
What Legal Nurse Consultants Do
Legal nurse consultant training prepares nurses to work in both the legal community with lawyers or in the medical community assisting with litigation and helping with issues that could become litigious. These nurses may often be called on to testify in court during medical cases. This is when the legal aspect of their training and education becomes obviously important. It brings the education required to be a nurse together with some legal training to create a profession that the courts can call upon to help discern the medical truth in many cases.
The legal nursing consultant is a fairly new field of nursing. The American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants was founded in 1989 to help provide resources and information for people who are looking for programs to help them get involved in consulting as a nurse in the legal field.
The first and major prerequisite for this training is that the person already be a registered nurse with a Bachelor of Science degree. The courses of training to be a legal nurse consultant combine paralegal type training with theory and ethics in litigation. The classes can be completed in a short period of time, some in as little as 4 weekend or 42 hours of instruction.
Nurses who wish to expand their role and enter the legal consultant field can find training courses both online and at traditional universities. As this field of nursing has progressed and become more requested, the training programs have become more standardized and certificates in legal nurse consultants are now offered.
Coursework for Legal Consultants
The areas covered when training to be legal nurse consultant vary somewhat from one program to another; however, the basics are the same. You can expect learn some of the following fundamentals:
- History of legal nursing consultants
- Law Breakdown: The 2 major systems, the 3 types of law and the 4 sources of law
- Tort Law
- International Law
- Liability concerns for the medical field
- Identification of legal documents pertaining to evidence
- Alternative Dispute Resolution
- Litigation Damages
This listing of topics is simply a sampling of what is covered in these programs. The idea here is to show how the medical and legal professions are meshed in this one program.
Using Legal Nurse Consultant Training
Legal nurse consultant training allows nurses to use their medical knowledge and education in a variety of ways. This relatively new field opens many doors to nurses outside of the medical world. Some of the areas that are currently utilizing nurse consultants include:
- Medical Malpractice Law Firms
- Insurance Companies
- Doctors and other Healthcare Providers
- Government Agencies that handle medical issues
- Risk Management Assessment in various areas
There will probably be more areas that this training will be used in the future as this field is explored by more legal arenas.
Are You a Candidate for Legal Nurse Consultant Training
It is a good idea to carefully consider the various aspects of the legal nurse consultant before applying for and taking the course. The career is much different than nursing in the hospital or a physician’s office. Some of the aspects that should be taken into consideration include:
- Preparation: Legal nurse consultants often spend a large amount of time reading evidentiary documents such as health records and reports in order to be able to prepare their own report.
- Communication: Testifying in a courtroom is not for the timid person. Taking the stand for one side of a case means being able to be cross-examined by the opposing side.
- Objectivity: Nurses are naturally caring, sympathetic people. Legal nurse consultants have to be objective and look at the evidence, not the person.
These are three areas that should be taken into account when deciding on attending a nurse consultant class, if each one can be answered honestly and the desire to entered remains, then legal nurse consulting could be a good career change.
Legal nurse consulting training has created more professional career options for people who want to enter the nursing field but don’t want to work in a hospital. It has also opened up an avenue for nurses who are ready for a career change.