What is a Legal Nurse Consultant?

Have you always been fascinated by the law yet want to work in the healthcare industry? If so, you may want to consider a career as a legal nurse consultant (LNC). Legal nurse consultants play an important role in both the legal and medical industry. Learn some crucial facts about legal nurse consultants and what career opportunities individuals can expect when they choose to become a legal nurse consultant.

What is a Legal Nurse Consultant?

A legal nurse consultant (LNC) is a registered nurse who uses his or her knowledge of healthcare to consult on or assist with medical-related legal cases. Through his or her experience as a registered nurse, an LNC is able to assist in understanding medical terminology, reading medical records and sometimes wading through monumental healthcare issues.

Legal nurse consultants often act as liaisons between the healthcare and legal industries; advising and consulting on cases involving medical malpractice, personal injury, torts, product liability claims and even criminal law. The testimony of a legal nurse consultant is often vital to a medical-legal case. The legal nurse consultant is a valuable asset to both the medical and legal industry. Some of the duties of an LNC may include:

  • Researching medical literature
  • Serving as a nurse expert witness
  • Interviewing clients
  • Educating clients and attorneys on medical issues
  • Evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of medical-legal cases
  • Attending medical examinations
  • Drafting medical portions of legal documents

How Can I Become a Legal Nurse Consultant?

If you’re interested in becoming a legal nurse consultant, you’ll need to become a registered nurse by completing an accredited nursing program. Nursing programs can be found at community colleges or universities. The programs may be associate degree or bachelor degree programs, although most legal nurse consultants have at least a bachelor’s degree.

Once the training is completed, you’ll need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (see: How Do I Prepare for My Nursing Board Exam?). Although you’re not required to complete a legal nurse consultant program, it’s beneficial to do so. The American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants (AALNC) offers an online LNC course.

It’s also beneficial to obtain Legal Nurse Consultant Certified credentials through the AALNC. To be eligible for the certification exam, you must be a licensed registered nurse with five years experience working as a registered nurse and at least 2,000 hours of experience consulting as a legal nurse within the past five years.

What is the Career Outlook for a Legal Nurse Consultant?

Legal nurse consultants continue to be in demand and should experience an excellent career outlook. The healthcare industry is expected to grow faster than any other industry, which will influence the number of malpractice lawsuits. This will play a large part in determining the job outlook for an LNC.

According to PayScale.com, legal nurse consultants earned an average annual salary of $69,880 as of August 2014. Those in the lowest ten percent earned $51,685 while those in the top ninety percent earned $214,713.

Legal nurse consultants may work in hospitals, healthcare facilities, forensic agencies, pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, law firms, consulting firms and government agencies. They may also work as independent contractors.

As a legal nurse consultant, you can become part of the medical and legal field – two fields that many consider the most sought-after fields. If you are currently a registered nurse, you’re more than halfway there already. Wherever you are in your career path, consider taking the next step towards a rewarding profession where your talents will be noticed and needed.