If you are a nurse, you know that there are many facets of the profession that many people don’t think about. The Legal Nurse Consultant is a position that often goes unnoticed yet is totally necessary in the nursing field. If you are interested in becoming a Legal Nurse Consultant, the journey ahead of you is a tough one. Luckily, like nursing, consulting can be very rewarding and can offer you a different outlook on the medical field. Keep reading to learn more.
A legal nurse consultant is generally a fully registered nurse that has specific expertise and special training that can be used to help with legal cases in the medical industry. They often work closely with attorneys to consult for proper terminology, common issues in the healthcare field, and understanding medical problems related to a current legal case. Essentially, a legal nurse consultant is a middle-man that helps attorneys understand field-specific information. They can be used as standby consultants or even special witnesses for certain cases that require a high level of medical knowledge. Legal nurse consultants are especially important for providing an unbiased professional opinion. They will always be practicing nurses, but are not required to have an official legal education.
Most legal nurse consultants begin as nurses in different specializations from orthopedics to the ER. It is this experience in the field of nursing that is crucial to becoming a good legal consultant. For example, working as a nurse can lead to managerial experience. This position often requires more paperwork and interdepartmental cooperation. Some of this work would be analysis of medical records, which opens up a lot of information that regular nurses might not come upon. Specifically, how physicians interact with each other and a common patient is something that nurse managers might take notice of.
When looking for an LNC training program for certification it is important to find an appropriate and official program. Currently, the AALNC program is the only one that is accredited by the American Board of Nursing Specialties. As such, it is an extensive and rigorous program that requires experience and a certification exam. However, there are many programs to choose from that will certify you as an LNC.
Once you become certified as a legal nurse consultant, you are able to work with attorneys on special cases. However, do remember that even though you have a nice new certification (and set of initials!) lawyers still care more about your nursing experience and medical expertise. It’s a good idea at this point to start looking for communities to join that can help you as you navigate a potential career change.
When you’re ready to find employment to put your new title to work, learn to market yourself in your new position. Legal nurse consultants generally have to find their own work; there is no firm for consultants. Instead, you’ll need to consider business cards and websites as a way to let others know of your specialized services. Sending out packets with your information and specialties directly to attorneys’ offices can help you find the work you’re looking for.
Becoming an LNC is a lot of work, but as a registered nurse, you’re probably used to it by now. Finding actual work as a consultant is also a lot of work, so don’t get disheartened if it takes a while to find an attorney that needs your services. And always remember that each case will be unique and you’ll continually have to learn more and more. As long as you’re aware of the expectations and the level of work required, becoming a legal nurse consultant could be an excellent career change for you.