Many nurses are choosing to expand their market potential by learning complimentary skills. Legal nurse consulting is one such marriage of skills sets that is extremely marketable and challenging for many nurses.
Legal Nurse Consultant Job Description & Scope of Practice
The legal nurse consultant is self-employed. Attorneys, governmental agencies, corporations and insurance companies are the most frequent employers of legal nurse consultants. The nurse planning to start a career as a legal nurse consultant should be experienced in nursing. They use their training and experience acquired as nurses to help review medical records and procedures and make sense of medical terminology for attorneys.
Attorneys are very well educated in the law, but very few have the skills to read through a potential malpractice suit or slip and fall and determine if medical malpractice might have been the cause. The nurse does not make that determination, but she does have the training and experience to know if appropriate medical procedures were followed and to point that out in the summary. She can also translate medical jargon into plain language for the attorney.
The legal nurse consultant will review the appropriate records, summarize the findings and point out any inconsistencies in procedures and care for the attorney.
How to Become a Legal Nurse Consultant
The legal nurse consultant might work only a day or on a simple consulting job or for more complex cases the work could last weeks. It requires a combination of nursing experience, legal nurse consulting training, and marketing to become a successful legal nurse consultant.
The legal nurse consultant should have substantial nursing experience as well as legal nurse consultant education courses. These courses are generally offered as continuing education modules. The legal nurse consultant must also market their services in order to obtain business. Unlike the hospital or doctor’s office where patients seek out the nurse, the consultant is in charge of finding their own business. What that means in practical terms is the nurse consultant might also want to consider some small business classes to learn how to best market their skills, keep their books and report taxes.
Legal Nurse Consultant Education Requirements, Certification, and Schooling Programs
- Graduation from an accredited nursing school with an Associate or Bachelor degree is required.
- The graduate nurse must take the NCLEX-RN exam in order to obtain an RN License.
- Advanced education credentials, such as a Master of Science in nursing can be very helpful for the legal nurse consultant.
- Obtain certification in legal nurse consulting by completing a legal nurse consulting continuing education program.
- In order to become a Legal Nurse Consultant Certified (LNCC), nurses need to sit for an exam administered through the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants (AALNC). The exam, accredited by the American Board for Nursing Specialties (ABNS), is given online and covers numerous topics including medical malpractice, workers’ compensation, risk management, administrative health law/regulatory compliance and criminal forensics among others. Eligible candidates must have a minimum of five years experience working as an RN and 2000 hours working in a legal nurse consulting field during the three years prior to the test. Certification is not required, but it is highly respected in the field.
Legal Nurse Consultant Salary and Career Outlook
The legal nurse consultant career outlook is bright as it is for all nursing fields. Consultants are usually employed by a company but contract their services for specific periods. However, the increasing complexity of medical procedures today, requires experts to interpret medical records and compile reports that are understandable to attorneys, human resource managers and insurance adjusters.
The salary of a legal nurse consultant can range from around $100 an hour to $150 an hour.