Legal Nurse Consultant: Education and Career Information
A legal nurse consultant (LNC) has intensive training, education and certification of a licensed registered nurse (RN) combined with practical, healthcare-related legal information. If you want to help bridge knowledge gaps between the medical and attorneys, this may be your ideal career path. A career in legal nurse consulting involves detailed research, along with the analysis and assessment of facts, testimony and opinions associated with nursing care and other healthcare services on each specific assigned case. While LNCs hold all the necessary requirements to serve as RNs, they instead use their enhanced education in medically-related legal matters to serve as analysts, strategists, researchers, educators and collaborators to bring greater understanding to all relevant parties in a given case.
What does a legal nurse consultant do?
The strongly educated legal nurse consultant—holding a licensed registered nursing degree and a legal nurse consultant certification in many cases—performs a long list of tasks that serve to provide meaningful medical counsel on legal matters, serving as the liaison between the legal and medical communities. Attorneys call on the services of LNCs to help them gain insights into medical issues and accepted medical practice standards. Legal nurse consultants may work for hospitals or private practice physicians, or they may practice as freelancers as legal consultants to law firms, insurance companies, clinics and other outpatient care facilities, and other institutions that need clarity on healthcare-related legal matters.
The tasks involved with legal nursing consulting are varied and include the following:
•Participate in client interviews wherein they either compose and ask questions, or they help clarify any questions that are unclear.
•Review, organize and analyze case-related medical to prepare for interviews, mediation, depositions, court cases and any other fact-gathering session.
•Create and organization of a timeline of events, along with other factors to help summarize a particular case to make it easy for outside parties, such as judges and opposing counsel, to clearly see and understand.
•Perform in-depth research cases and conduct searches for specific medical literature in medical journals, books and via online resources.
•Identify applicable standards of medical care in medical malpractice cases.
•Screen and facilitate a review from expert witnesses to prepare for a deposition or testimony.
•Study a case to evaluate it for strengths and weaknesses.
•Locate, organize and prepare supportive and demonstrative evidence for various legal proceedings.
•Serve as a nurse expert witness for deposition, trial, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) or another type of legal proceeding.
•Attend and review independent medical examinations.
•Prepare drafts or analyze medical portions of legal documents, such as motions, briefs and affidavits.
•Inform attorneys and clients about specific medical issues that are relevant to the case.
•Help attorneys identify the plaintiff’s future related medical needs and associated costs.
•Determine causes and damages issues.
•Work with attorneys and other support team members on case management.
•Participate in discussions surrounding case strategy.
•Work out cost of care estimates in catastrophic case management situations and in the case where a plaintiff may need long-term care.
This comprehensive list may help you understand how intensive, dynamic, engaging and meaningful the work of a legal nurse consultant is.
What types of roles do legal nurse consultants perform?
Legal nurse consultants work in areas that include medical malpractice, long-term care litigation and elder law, risk management, life care planning, regulatory compliance, workers’ compensation, product liability and medicare set-aside.
How much does a legal nurse consultant earn?
As of May 2016, legal nurse consultants earn a median salary of $67,930, according to CriminalJusticePrograms.com, but these professionals can earn well into six-figure digits, depending on experience, education and the local job market.
What types of skills and traits are required to become a legal nursing consultant?
Legal nurse consultants offer prospective employers a wealth of critical skills to help create better lines of communication between medical professionals, attorneys and insurance company representatives. A few of the key skills LNCs need for their work include:
•Resourcefulness: A LNC must possess strong organizational and problem-solving skills to achieve results through a combination of by-the-book processes and thinking out of the box.
•Knowledge: A legal nurse consultant needs to have an-depth knowledge of medical anatomy, physiology, medical treatment, disease processes, and general medical terminology and medical tools, as well as the ability to put it into universally understood terms.
•Experience: One of the most important features future employers seek in LNCs is extensive clinical experience. In addition to practical daily experience, potential employers seek the LNC’s ability to interpret medical records and medical literature.
•Writing: A legal nurse consultant needs to write up research findings, case notes, emails and other correspondence, and other communication to ensure that everyone has all necessary information.
•Confidence in Open Communication: Whether giving testimony or simply talking to clients, it is imperative that legal nurse consultants are comfortable and convey confidence when speaking.
•Social Perceptiveness: It is important that legal nurse consultants have social perceptiveness in order to take the temperature of a situation and help keep everyone on track, according to the facts of the case; particularly when emotions take over reason.
•Empathy: Empathy in LNCs allows them to give clients insights into both sides of a case, giving more in-depth reasoning for respective positions.
What are the internship requirements when working to become a legal nurse consultant?
Some LNC training programs do offer internship opportunities, according to Study.com. Students training to become LNC certified may take on internship positions alongside experienced legal nurse consultants or at law firms. Students have the opportunity to learn more about the specific skills and abilities needed for medical research, as well as the relationships between LNCs and their clients, which can become a great asset when it is time to search for a LNC job.
What are the education requirements for students planning to become a legal nurse consultant?
Students who want to become a legal nurse consultant will benefit from planning early. High school students will benefit from developing strong study habits and taking college-bound classes that includes higher level math and science courses. It is also important for high school students to maintain a high GPA to ensure a spot in a high-quality college nursing program.
When choosing a college tract, it is helpful for students to plan for long-term goals, which includes going on to pursue a career in legal nurse consulting, by choosing the best program. While many registered nurses earn their associate degree in nursing through attending community and vocational colleges, others seek out a bachelor of science in nursing at a four-year university. An associate degree, which is sufficient to eventually become a legal nurse consultant, offers students more intensive hands-on training, preparing RNs for ready immersion into a fast-paced medical environment. The bachelor degree, however, offers students the opportunity to cultivate skills like leadership, healthcare management, nursing research, critical thinking and health assessments. A bachelor provides all the essential skills and tools needed for a legal nurse consultant, in addition to the general nursing and practical experience in an associate nursing program.
Once you have become a registered nurse, become licensed and work the required amount of time in the general nursing field, you may pursue additional studies to prepare for becoming a LNC. Pursue legal education through a LNC training program. Focus on study areas that include criminal law, medical ethics, the litigation process, toxic tort, informed consent, the rules of evidence and risk management.
Finally, you have the option to become certified in legal nurse consulting. While not mandatory, having your LNC license instantly demonstrates that you have met the experience and education requirements and that you have passed the certification examination. Performing this extra step makes it easier for prospective employers to see your qualifications quickly and clearly, without their having to do additional research.