Legal Nurse Consultant
When you combine medical expertise with legal know-how you get a legal nurse consultant. Legal nurse consultants are fully trained and officially certified nurses who consult on health care related legal cases.
Legal Nurse Consultant Job Description
Legal nurse consultants may work for medical organizations like hospitals or can freelance as legal consultants to law firms, insurance companies and other institutions. Some insurance companies or law firms specializing in medical cases may keep a full-time legal nurse consultant on staff. Most often, legal nurse consultants work on cases involving charges of medical fraud or liability claims issues.
The legal nurse consultant may be asked to review upcoming cases to see if they are worth pursuing, serve as a point-of-connection between medical professionals and law offices or perform medical research pertinent to the case. An average day on the job can involve any of these duties, as well as meetings with lawyers and clients. In some cases, a legal nurse consultant will also be called upon as a witness in order to offer expert medical testimony during a trial.
How to Become a Legal Nurse Consultant
Given the specialized medical and legal knowledge that is required to serve as a legal nurse consultant, it shouldn’t come as surprise that a substantial level of education is required to break into the business. Most legal nurse consultants start by becoming a registered nurse, which in most cases means at least a four-year bachelor’s degree. After studying nursing, those hoping to become legal nurse consultants are advised to receive legal education in areas such as criminal law and medical ethics. In general, a legal nurse consultant is expected to have a few years of experience in nursing and in many cases a certification as a legal nurse consultant. Although such legal training and certification is not required, it can greatly improve job prospects and is recommended by the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants.
Legal Nurse Consultant Salary and Career Outlook
In 2017, registered nurses earned an average median salary of $70,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Legal nurse consultants working for law firms or insurance companies usually work on an hourly rate and can command as much as $130 per hour. Salaries for legal nurse consultants employed on a full-time basis by law firms or insurance companies can range into the six-figure digits. Career outlook for legal nurse consultants, as with almost all jobs in the medical field, is expected to be excellent in the future.
In the past, career sites have listed legal nurse consulting and a similar career path, nurse paralegal, on a top ten list of hot careers. In addition, job prospects are expected to be good as demand for registered nurses increases in response to a shortage of new nurses entering the field.