Legal Nurse Consultant Job Description, Career as a Legal Nurse Consultant, Salary, Employment
Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job
Education and Training Bachelor’s degree and certification
Average Salary $60,000 per year
Job Outlook Very good
Basic Job Description
Legal nurse consultants conduct research in medical environments, review medical records, and prepare medical reports for attorneys who are representing a patient looking for legal care in regards to their health care. Some legal nurse consultants work part time in the legal field and continue a regular nursing career the rest of the time. They are used by attorneys to explain detailed medical jargon to them and help them to fully understand the details of the medical issues being brought up by the patient in need of the attorney. They often work full-time in a courtroom to prepare witnesses and attorneys and even work as part of a litigation team. Legal nurse consultants work primarily on cases that involve criminal medical cases, injury caused by a doctor or hospital, medical malpractice, and class action litigation suits.
Education and Training Requirements
Most students who go into the field of legal nurse consulting are already a registered nurse. In order to become a registered nurse, students obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing and then become certified through taking a state administered examination. Those who want to become a legal nurse consultant then have to become certified through the state by taking legal courses, working in a courtroom for a set number of hours and then taking another state administered examination.
Legal nurse consultants are required to work a certain number of hours as a registered nurse and a certain number of hours in the legal field alongside an attorney in order to be qualified to take the examination and become certified. Legal nurse consultants are also required to renew their examination every several years. Specific hours and certification requirements vary by state.
Getting the Job
Legal nurses must be familiar with working in a hospital and the practices and procedures that take place. They must also be familiar with working in a courtroom and alongside attorneys. Legal nurse consultants must have excellent written and oral communication skills, as they will often be speaking with attorneys, nurses, doctors, patients and witness regarding the details of the case to help put together paperwork that fully explains the situation.
Legal nurse consultants must also have a professional and compassionate demeanor. Patients who are taking legal action against a doctor or hospital may be severely, even permanently injured, and may also be mentally scarred. They need someone who is understanding and objective regarding their case that they feel comfortable working with. In order to obtain all the information needed for a case, legal nurses must possess this behavior while still maintaining a professional attitude.
Legal nurse consultants should also understand various medical practices and understand almost all medical jargon. Many attorneys are unfamiliar with detailed medical terminology, so it will be the job of the legal nurse consultant to break the information down and make sure everyone has a clear understanding of the medical situation.
Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development
Most legal nurse consultants work for hospitals or attorneys who deal with a large number of medical malpractice cases. They can also advance to working for insurance companies, government agencies, or private corporations. HMO’s are also constantly looking for nurses who possess legal knowledge.
Legal nurse consultants can advance or develop their career by working full-time in a courtroom or for an attorney’s office providing medical information and translation. Some even advance their careers by obtaining a law degree and opening a law firm that specializes in medical malpractice cases.
Employment outlook for legal nurse consultants is on the rise, and demand for them is rapidly increasing. Many nurses are advancing their career by obtaining a certification as a legal nurse consultants, but they work freelance. These freelance consultants will work their day as a regular nurse, but work for hospitals or attorneys on the side as a consultant as opposed to doing that as a full-time career. Nurses with an education and certification in legal consulting are more likely to get hired, as many companies see these skills as a serious advantage for them and their patients.
Working Conditions and Environment
Legal nurse consultants often work as a registered nurse most of the time, so they are working in a hospital environment closely with patients. They must be comfortable working with severely ill or injured patients and aiding doctors with surgeries, pharmaceutical distribution, and other standard medical procedures. Nurses may have to perform unsightly or uncomfortable jobs such as emptying bedpans or washing soiled linens. Most nurses also work on rotated shifts in hospitals, so some days they may work a day shift while other days they may be required to work overnight.
Legal nurse consultants often work as a registered nurse during the day, and provide their legal services for attorneys when needed. They will meet with attorneys and help with court cases when they are not working in a hospital or doctor’s office, so it is not uncommon for them to work long and unusual hours. Legal nurse consultants usually work in an office where they create paperwork for attorneys and help prepare them for legal cases. They will also meet with patients in hospitals or doctor’s offices to gather information regarding the case.
Some legal nurse consultants work full-time as a consultant and do not work as a registered nurse at all. They will spend most of their workday in an attorney’s office preparing them for cases and compiling paperwork.
Salary and Benefits
The average salary for a legal nurse consultant is about $60,000 per year. Legal nurse consultants who work as a registered nurse and freelance their legal services may make more, as they commonly work more hours. Those who work for a large attorney’s office will also make more than someone who works for a private practice.
Legal nurse consultants also receive benefits such as health insurance, vacation time and sick leave allowance from their employers. Consultants who work as a registered nurse will receive their salary and benefits from their employers as opposed to anyone who hires them freelance. Consultants who work for a law firm will receive it from them rather than from hospitals or doctor’s offices.
Where to Go for More Information
American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants
401 North Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611
American Society of Legal Nurse Consultants
4781 North Congress Avenue, Suite 184
Boynton Beach, FL 33426
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