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Legal Nurse Consultant– A Flourishing Field
- Have you heard of legal nurse consultants? Are you wondering, “What does this type of nurse do?“
- A legal nurse consultant is a nurse who specializes in legal affairs.
- Let‘s break it down and cover everything you need to know about legal nurse consultants!
MPH, MSN, WHNP-BC
You’re here because you’re wondering what a legal nurse consultant is! A legal nurse consultant is a registered nurse who uses their knowledge of health care and nursing care to consult on medical and nursing-related legal matters.
Like all nurses, LNCs are educated and trained in anatomy, physiology, pharmacology and assessment. It is important to note that legal nurse consultants (LNCs) are not nurse lawyers and do not have a law degree.
When I first started to read about nursing and the different nursing career paths, I wondered about the differences between a nurse attorney, legal nurse consultant, and other nursing options. If you’re curious about the intersections of nursing and the legal system, this post is for you!
Education of a Legal Nurse Consultant
LNCs are registered nurses with an Associate’s degree or Bachelor’s degree in nursing. To receive training as an LNC, nurses can either complete a legal nurse consulting certification or certificate program through a university or organization, such as the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants.
Something to note about LNCs is that they often have years of experience as a nurse prior to become an LNC. Whether it is through emergency room nursing, med-surg nursing, or ambulatory care nursing, most employers and LNC programs will recommend to have at least three years of experience as a nurse prior to becoming an LNC.
Salary of a Legal Nurse Consultant
Salary ranges often vary by state and place of employment, such as a law office or public hospital. Typically, legal nurse consultants with more experience tend to have a higher salary than those without experience.
According to Glassdoor.com, the average salary for a legal nurse consultant is $88,000. Note that this average varies depending on experience, location, and place of work.
Where Do Legal Nurse Consultants Work?
LNCs can work in many places, such as:
- Law offices
- Clinical research facilities
- Non-profit organizations
- Telehealth start-ups
- Military health services
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Insurance companies, and more.
A legal nurse consultant can also work as an independent consultant, continue to work in direct patient care, be part of nursing management, or teach at nursing schools.
Scope of Practice
Legal nurse consultants have many tasks and responsibilities, such as:
- Examine cases for merit
- Conduct literature reviews
- Assist in medical legal research
- Review medical records
- Identify appropriate standards of care
- Prepare for legal proceedings
- Analyze evidence
- Assess cost of care and damages
- Assist with caseloads
- Find an expert witness
- Act as an expert witness
- Collaborate with other legal and medical experts
- and of course, educate as appropriate.
This is just a sample of what legal nurse consultants can do! The scope of work for a legal nurse consultant truly depends on their training, local boards of nursing and law, workplace practices, and local legislation.
Comparing a Legal Nurse Consultant and Nurse Attorney
A legal nurse consultant is a registered nurse who has completed training, such as certification program, to be a legal nurse consultant. A nurse attorney is a nurse who has also received a law degree.
LNCs do not need to pursue a law degree in order to perform their work. Nurse lawyers can act as both a lawyer and a nurse. LNCs are not attorneys.
When thinking about one path over the other, it is important to consider your career goals. If being both a nurse and lawyer is important to you, then you might want to consider going back to school to pursue a legal degree.
Both LNCs and nurse attorneys work in both the legal and health care fields at different places and for different purposes.
If you are considering being a legal nurse consultant, I would recommend that you ask yourself if you truly are passionate about the legal system, have good critical thinking skills, love all things documentation, and strive to provide the best patient care.
The Bottom Line
If you are thinking about becoming a legal nurse consultant or learning more about the profession, I would recommend looking into the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants and the American Nurse Association.
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