How to Become a Legal Nurse Consultant

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The legal and medical fields are closely connected, as there are many legal cases that are related to medical issues. Legal nurse consultants are registered nurses that use their healthcare expertise to provide assistance with medical-related legal cases.

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What does a legal nurse consultant do?

Legal nurse consultants act as a liaison between the healthcare and legal fields. They assist lawyers and businesses with reading and reviewing medical records, understanding medical terminology, locating and preparing evidence, and they provide education about medical issues. They review cases, help with research, examine medical records, identify healthcare standards, create reports and summaries on medical conditions, and help prepare for trials. They also locate and interview patients and witnesses. Sometimes legal nurse consultants testify in court as expert witnesses. Legal nurse consultants assist lawyers with determining the merits of a case and they analyze documents to compare them with allegations.

What kind of training does a legal nurse consultant need?

Legal nurse consultants must become a registered nurse by completing a diploma, associate degree, or bachelor degree program in nursing. Many prospective legal nurse consultants also complete certificate programs. Most certificate programs provide courses in legal terminology, medical records summary and review, civil litigation, healthcare risk management, and torts and medical liability. Most employers prefer candidates with at least 3 years of nursing experience. All registered nurses must become licensed by passing the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN). Most legal nurse consultants also gain professional certification from the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants (AALNC). Legal nurse consultants must complete regular continuing education to maintain their licenses and certifications and stay abreast on the current advancements in the field.

What are the prospects for a career as a legal nurse consultant?

Employment of all registered nurses is expected to grow much faster than average for all professions, increasing 23% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The increase in medical-related legal cases will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be great especially for legal nurse consultants with professional certifications and extensive experience. Numerous job openings will arise from the need to replace legal nurse consultants that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do legal nurse consultants make?

As of December 2009, the average annual salary for legal nurse consultants is $82,000; average annual legal nurse consultant salaries vary greatly on location, industry, employer, education, experience, and benefits (2).

A career as a legal nurse consultant is a great choice for individuals with a strong interest in bridging the gap between the medical field and legal system. Legal nurse consultants must have a solid understanding of nursing practices and the ability to connect them to a variety of medical-related legal issues. Patience, determination, detail orientation, perseverance, and critical thinking are necessary characteristics. Legal nurse consultants must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and feel comfortable interviewing patients and witnesses and testifying in court.

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