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Legal Nurse Consultant

The medical field is complex, and many who are not working health care professionals may be unfamiliar with the laws, guidelines and general nuances of the industry. Legal nurse consultants act as the resource for outside professions needing insight into the health care industry, especially with concern to health care law. They primarily work with attorneys, physicians and clients in providing clarity on health care and the law for legal cases. Legal nurse consultants can summarize medical literature, instruct patients and attorneys on the medical facts surrounding a case, organize medical records and perform many other tasks to help others understand the case in court.

Aspiring legal nurse consultants must first become registered nurses (RNs), according to the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants (AALNC). RNs must complete either a diploma program from a nursing school, an associate degree in nursing, or a bachelor’s degree in nursing. After graduating from the nursing program, prospective nurses take the NCLEX-RN examination to gain licensure. Though there are no formal education or training requirements for legal nurse consultants, student nurses should take courses in law, ethics, and other paralegal or legal assistant programs during their nursing education so that they become familiarized with the workings of the legal system. Certification is not required, but many employers prefer certified nurses.

Nursing is the biggest field in the health care industry and is one of the top ten growing jobs in the country, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The increase in population will result in an increase in patients at health care facilities, which inevitably also means that the chances of legal health care claims and cases will grow as well. As a result, legal nurse consultants will be in high demand to keep health-related cases clear and accurate. Those working as independent consultants are typically paid on an hourly basis while those working in law firms or other institutions are paid a salary, according to the AALNC. These wages and salaries differ, depending on the nurses’ experience, education level, employer and geographic region.