Legal Nurse Career Overview
Students interested in healthcare and the law can consider careers as legal nurses. These nurses assist attorneys and serve as expert witnesses in medical cases, such as malpractice, personal injury, or product liability.
Legal Nurse Career in Brief
Legal nurses' unique roles include analysts, collaborators, educators, researchers, and strategists. They function as consultants at the crossroads of healthcare and law, offering expertise in nursing, medicine, and healthcare systems.
Key Skills and Responsibilities
- Participating in client interviews
- Reviewing medical records and documentation
- Conducting literature searches and research
- Identifying standards of care
- Drafting medical legal documents
- Providing expert court testimony
- Assembling evidence for trial
- Preparing care cost estimates
- Assisting with depositions
Legal Nurse Consultant Certified (LNCC)
- Critical Thinking
- Communication Skills
- Knowledge of Legal Terminology
Where Do Legal Nurses Work?
Legal nurses work with attorneys, claims adjusters, medical staff, and patients. These nurses find employment in law firms, insurance companies, healthcare facilities, patient safety organizations, and corporate legal departments.
The list below outlines common work settings and responsibilities.
- Law Firms
- Legal nurses working in law firms conduct client interviews, review standards of care, summarize medical records, and provide expert testimony.
- Insurance Companies
- With insurance companies, these nurses analyze healthcare benefits, audit medical bills, and perform case management.
- Healthcare Facilities
- Legal nurses in healthcare facilities collaborate with team members, investigate malpractice claims, educate staff, and ensure law and regulation compliance.
What Is the Difference Between a Legal Nurse Consultant and a Nurse Attorney?
Nurses interested in healthcare law can consider careers as nurse attorneys. However, becoming a nurse attorney requires a law degree and admission to a state bar association. While legal nurse consultants provide assistance and expertise in legal cases, nurse attorneys are lawyers themselves.
The following table lists a few differences between legal nurse consultants and nurse attorneys.
Legal Nurse Consultant
- Education: Associate degree in nursing (ADN) or bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree
- Exam: National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN)
- Licensure: Registered nurse (RN)
- Experience: Five years of RN work recommended
- Roles: Consultant, expert witness, liaison, researcher
- Education: BSN and law degree
- Exam: NCLEX-RN, LSAT (pre-law school exam), and bar exam
- Licensure: RN and state bar association
- Experience: A few years of RN work recommended
- Roles: Attorney, litigator, lobbyist
How To Become a Legal Nurse Consultant
Graduate With a BSN or an ADN
Pass the NCLEX-RN Exam To Receive RN Licensure
Gain Clinical Nursing Experience
Apply To Become LNCC
How Much Do Legal Nurses Make?
According to PayScale, the average legal nurse consultant salary totals $78,070, not including bonuses, profit-sharing, or benefits. RNs earn a median average salary of $73,300, so becoming a legal nurse can further increase pay. Legal nurse consultant job listings on Indeed include positions paying more than $80,000 for legal nurse consultants with three years of experience.
PayScale indicates that salaries begin to climb at around 10 years of working in the field. Legal nurses in St. Louis, New York, and Atlanta earn more than the national average.
Frequently Asked Questions
Students who obtain ADNs and follow the AALNC's recommendation of five years of RN experience can become legal nurse consultants in seven years. Those who pursue BSNs or master of science in nursing (MSN) degrees add 2-4 years to their educational path. Accelerated and bridge programs can shorten the timeline.
Legal nurses looking to advance their careers can earn an LNCC credential, which signifies advanced knowledge and expertise; obtaining a BSN or MSN opens doors to more employment opportunities; and attending law school and becoming a nurse attorney offers an additional career path. Accruing experience and developing your skills also help with career advancement.
The demand for legal nurse consultants remains high due to their medical expertise. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 7% increase in RN positions from 2019 to 2029, outpacing the 4% national average for all occupations.
Legal nurse consultants do not need formal legal education; however, some colleges, universities, and organizations offer legal nurse consulting courses and award a certificate of completion. Legal nurses typically earn nursing degrees, which qualify them for RN licensure and AALNC certification, but some individuals pursue specialty coursework and higher degrees.
Resources for Legal Nurses
American Association of Legal Nurse ConsultantsIn addition to offering LNCC credentials, the AALNC supports its members with a career center, free webinars, local chapters, publications, and discounted professional liability insurance. Non-members can access AALNC's bookstore and education products free of charge. Membership options include RN, non-RN, and journal subscription only.
National Alliance of Certified Legal Nurse ConsultantsAs the largest and oldest organization of legal nurse consultants, NACLNC comprises a network of certified legal nurse consultants (CLNC) trained at the Vickie Milazzo Institute. Its website features an online directory of CLNCs to connect legal professionals with healthcare experts and help build their cases.
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