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Nurses may be the most in-demand health care position in the country.

Legal Nurse Consultant

What Does a Legal Nurse Consultant Do?

A legal nurse consultant provides medical expertise in the proceedings of legal cases. They assist attorneys and other legal professions with interpreting complex medical records and charts, consulting on health care related topics and generally understanding medical terminology. Their duties can also include medical record research, explaining complex medical information to clients, identifying medical standards of care, preparing reports, and testifying as an expert witness in court proceedings involving worker's compensation, malpractice, fraud, abuse and other medical matters. Aside from lawyers, legal nurse consultants can work with insurance companies, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, clinics and government agencies. They also have the option to be self employed and work on a contractual basis with these institutions. Legal nurse consultants come from a variety of nursing backgrounds including emergency rooms, hospital administration, private practices and community clinics. Their varied experience makes them invaluable assets during legal cases.

How Can I Become a Legal Nurse Consultant?

Legal nurse consultants must be educated and certified as licensed registered nurses. This entails receiving a two or four year nursing degree from an approved nursing program and successfully passing the national licensing exam, NCLEX-RN. This exam allows nursing professionals to legally practice medicine in the state of their residence. Candidates generally work for five years as a registered nurse and two years in the legal nursing field before seeking certification. They do not have to have a formal legal education to become legal nurse consultants, but rather many attend legal seminars and programs. The Legal Nurse Consultant Certified (LNCC) credential is the only certification recognized by the American Association of Legal Nursing Consultants (AALNC) and accredited by the American Board of Nurse Specialists (ABNS). The exam is administered by the American Legal Nurse Consultant Certification Board (ALNCCB) and covers the following areas: medical malpractice, personal injury, product liability, workers' compensation, risk management, life care planning, administrative health law, elder law and criminal/forensic.

What Is the Career and Salary Outlook for a Legal Nurse Consultant?

Nursing in general is a field that is growing rapidly in the United States. Because there is currently a nursing shortage, the demand for qualified medical professions is high, especially for specialists like legal nursing consultants. One of the benefits of working as a legal nurse consultant is the autonomy it provides. Many consultants work for themselves and are contracted with companies, hospitals and law firms. This allows them to set their own schedules and to have a flexible work environment. Also, legal nurse consultants are able to see their medical expertise directly translated into legal action on behalf of their clients. This can be very rewarding. A deterrent to working as a legal nurse consultant is the lack of patient interaction involved as much of this job revolves around paperwork and the transmission of information. Legal nurse consultants generally earn an hourly salary which can range from $100-250 depending on the firm, duties performed and geographic location.

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