If you have experience in the nursing profession and want to explore other opportunities that come with the nursing profession becoming a legal nurse consultant (LNC) is a good option. As the name suggests, you will have to give advice to attorneys relating to medical matters in legal cases. Attorneys don’t have knowledge about medical issues, but have to handle cases involving medical mishaps. This is where the role of legal nurse consultant begins and it is a vital cog in the wheel as far as medical cases are concerned.
The demand for certified nursing assistant (CNA) is expected to be high for at least the next ten years; and those specialized in legal practices will also be in good demand. It is therefore a good opening if you feel you can make a difference in providing justice to those who have been at the receiving end of medical malpractices. Your experience of working in hospitals is the key to become a legal nurse consultant you will be able to communicate the medical issues in a professional manner and that too in a language that non-medical people will understand.
Duties of a legal nurse consultant
As legal nurse consultants you must carry out research in medical environments, cross check medical data, and draft medical reports for lawyers who are representing a patient looking for legal assistance related to their health care issues. You have an option of being a part time LNC and work as a nurse in the remaining time or work full time practicing your legal expertise.
Attorneys cannot understand medical jargons, so you have to explain them in details in the reports so that everyone in the courtroom understands those terms and the patients seeking justice for medical mistreatments can be served properly. Most often professionals choose to work full time in the court to prepare witnesses for statements and be an integral part of the litigation team. The duties of legal nurse consultants primarily involve criminal cases related to injury caused by a doctor or hospital, medical malpractice, and class action litigation suits.
How to Become a Legal Nurse Consultant
To become a LNC you must be a registered nurse with minimum three years of experience in the field; it is the basic eligibility criterion. The next step is to get the required training and passing a certification exam. The training involves study of two semesters and subjects such as legal terminology, health care risk management, civil litigation procedures, review of medical date and other pertaining legal nursing topics.
You must be very good at communication and special language training is essential to be able to understand the legal proceedings. You may have to be witness in some cases; in other instances you will have to prepare witnesses and you must have the skill to let common people understand and decode the medical terminology. Effective speaking classes will make you used to the modus operandi of legal procedures and you will be able to communicate with ease.
Legal nurse consultants have the option of working in varied settings such as independent consultant, in a forensic department, insurance companies or in law enforcement department. You should take the training keeping in mind the specialization you intend to do in order to work in the specific setting. This will help you get a deeper insight in the legal aspects of each of these settings and you will be able to give your best in terms of practice and advise to attorneys and clients who need legal assistance for the medical issues they have been through.
Benefits of being a LNC
There are some fantastic benefits of being a legal nurse consultant as follows:
- You have a choice of the settings in which you want to work, so you can be more focused and highly efficient
- On all public holidays the court will be closed; you will have many holidays and can enjoy quality time with your family and friends
- You can fix your schedule as per your liking and manage your work as per your priorities
- If you work as a home consultant you can work from home and you will be the boss
- For every case you will have to carry out extensive research and you will be learning new topics continually; in turn you will pass on the knowledge to the clients
- You will come across many people from varied fields and with good interpersonal relationship you can benefit by building a good professional network
- You will have endless career opportunities as you can work in different settings and provide services to varied clients
- You can have a good salary; earning of LNC are much netter than registered nurses. You can even consider part time if you want to enjoy other activities or take education for career advancement.
Job outlook for legal nurse consultants
There is a great demand for LNC as you have to you can work in insurance companies, courtrooms, home consultancy, law enforcement department etc. It is reported that 25 percent of the attorneys across America need medical assistance for their cases, so you need not worry about the employment opportunities. As compared to CNAs, the salary of LNC is much better as compared to the registered nurse. The hourly salary is $80 to $100 for legal nurses, which means they can earn anything between $160,000 to $200,000, which is a great salary; RN gets an average salary of $65,000 nationally.
So if you are looking for career advancement as in the field of nursing and have the experience, you can look forward to a very rewarding and high paying career as a legal nurse consultant.