Legal Nurse Consultant Certification – Overview
Legal nurse consultant certification is meant for registered nurses (RNs). If you want to provide consultation and expert services regarding medical issues to lawyers, then you should become a Legal Nurse Consultant (LNC).
You still need to have a strong connection in clinical nursing practice. Legal nurse consultants use their training and experience to evaluate complicated information in medico-legal cases. LNCs play a unique part in connecting the legal process and healthcare science with patient outcomes.
As a legal nurse consultant, you can find work in a variety of settings, including insurance companies, legal firms, and independent consulting practices, among others.
The certification aspect of this field is managed by the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants (AALNC), formed back in 1989.
What Does a Legal Nurse Consultant Do?
A legal nurse consultant performs a varied and dynamic role in the legal profession.
They use their experience and skills in various legal practice areas that are constantly getting connected with medical science, healthcare and legal practice changes.
As an LNC, you can expect to work in the following areas:
- Personal injuries
- Medical malpractice
- Product liability
- Long-term care litigation (elder law)
- Workers’ compensation
- Toxic tort
- Life care planning
- Risk assessment and management
- Civil rights
- Regulatory compliance
- Medicare add-ons
- Employment discrimination
How to Become a Legal Nurse Consultant?
These are the steps to follow if you want to become a Legal Nurse Consultant (LNC) in the US:
- Acquire a 2-year Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN), OR
- Graduate from 3-year programs for a Diploma in Nursing OR
- Pass your 4-year college or university course for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree
- Upon completing graduation, take the RN licensing exam conducted by the NCLEX
- After passing the NCLEX exam, you can apply for your first nursing job
As an LNC, you need to have a solid understanding of clinical nursing so that you can understand and explain the medical nuances of any legal case. Working in a specialty area before working as an LNC is even more beneficial for your career growth.
What are the Responsibilities of a Legal Nurse Consultant?
As a legal nurse consultant, you can work independently and with various types of people and professionals.
You may be required to function under pressure. Irrespective of the type of work environment, LNCs need to perform several integral functions, such as:
- Conducting client interviews
- Reviewing and analyzing medical records
- Identifying medical professional standards of practice
- Conducting a medical literature review
- Translating healthcare language for lawyers and legal staff
- Identifying and securing expert witnesses
- Providing testimony as an expert witness in court
- Education lawyers regarding medical problems
- Preparing for trials and depositions
- Serving as a jury consultant for legal teams
- Producing exhibits for depositions and trials
- Consulting on product liability cases
LNCs need to accept only cases with a strong medical or clinical foundation. In such situations, LNCs can perform invaluable services to lawyers, legal teams and their clients.
If you specialize in critical care nursing or the medical-surgical field, then you can provide consultation and advice in a wide range of legal cases. You can also become a good LNC if you have a background in orthopedics, neurology, obstetrics, oncology, cardiology and rehabilitation.
Where Do Legal Nurse Consultants Work?
As a certified legal nurse consultant, you can expect to find employment in the following fields:
- Government agencies
- Healthcare facilities
- Forensic labs
- Business legal departments
- Insurance companies
- Law firms
- PSO (Patient Safety Organization)
- HMO (Health Maintenance Organization)
- LNC consulting firms
- Independent LNC practice
What is the Annual Salary of Legal Nurse Consultants?
According to reports by Payscale, the average annual salary for certified LNCs in the US is around US$ 86,243, which is around US$ 49.32 per hour.
However, the specific salary for LNCs depends on several factors, including the level of education and credentials, years of experience, geographic location, practice specialty and employer size.
Legal nurse consultants have become increasingly important as a growing number of medico-legal cases are being filed every year.
Their special expertise makes them invaluable for both the defense and the prosecution. As an LNC, you can expect to earn significantly more than conventional RNs.