How to become a legal nurse consultant

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Legal nurse consultants are registered nurse who evaluate relevant, complex information in legal cases.They bridge the gap between the legal process, health care science and patient outcomes.Legal nurse consultants might evaluate medical malpractice cases.They also might testify at trials as an expert witness.A legal nurse consultant can also be self-employed and work when they want to

You’ll be able to work in government, law firms or for yourself

You worked hard for your nursing degree, but now you’re feeling a bit stressed and all you want to do is watch true crime dramas all day.

That’s OK. There is a way you can put your skills to work and still enjoy solving crime mysteries — well, sort of. You could become a legal nurse consultant.

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Legal nurse consultants are registered nurse who share their expertise with attorneys to evaluate relevant, complex information in legal cases. They bridge the gap between the legal process, health care science and patient outcomes.

According to Nurse.org, this specialty area of nursing took root in the 1970s, and further established itself with the formation of the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants in 1989.

The AALNC identifies the following practice areas for legal nurse consultants:

  • Medical malpractice
  • Personal injury
  • Long-term care litigation/elder law
  • Product liability
  • Toxic tort
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Risk management
  • Life care planning
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Forensic/criminal
  • Civil rights
  • Employment discrimination
  • Medicare set-asides
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Within those practice areas, you would perform various functions, including:

  • Reviewing and analyzing medical records
  • Conducting client interviews
  • Conducting medical literature review
  • Identifying medical professional standards of practice
  • Identifying and securing expert witnesses
  • Translating health care language for attorneys and other legal staff
  • Educating attorneys about medical issues
  • Providing testimony in court as an expert witness
  • Preparing for depositions and trials
  • Producing exhibits for trials and depositions
  • Serving as a jury consultant for the legal team
  • Consulting on product liability cases

Being a legal nurse consultant allows you to work in a variety of environments too, from government agencies to being self-employed. Now you’re interested, aren’t you?

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If so, here’s what you need to do:

  • Graduate from a two-year program for an associate’s degree in nursing, a three-year program for a diploma in nursing (usually hospital-based), or a four-year college or university program leading to a bachelor’s degree in nursing
  • Take the RN licensing exam after graduation, also known as the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination). The NCLEX is a nationwide examination for the licensing of nurses in the United States and Canada
  • Once you pass this exam, you may apply for your first nursing job
  • Legal nurse consultants need to have a solid clinical nursing background so that they have an understanding of the medical nuances involved in cases.
  • Work in general medical-surgical nursing, as well as specialty areas including obstetrics, orthopedics, rehabilitation, neurology, cardiology and others, can provide a solid foundation for the LNC.
  • LNCs may also have advanced education, such as a master’s or doctoral degree.

If you’re ready to enroll in a program to earn your certification, you’re in luck. Nurse.org lists the University of Georgia’s program among its top 10. The two month course can be completed online and costs $1,195.

“Available to both RNs and PAs, the University of Georgia’s legal nurse consultant training prepares students to take and pass the Legal Nurse Consultant Certified exam,” the website wrote. “The program uses bi-monthly start dates with six start date options throughout the year, and students complete their courses online. The program requires 42 hours to complete and counts toward 4.2 continuing education credits. This quick, affordable program requires a much lower time commitment than other options on this list.”

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