Legal nurse consultant is a specialized role in nursing that’s ideal for those seeking to combine their interests in health care and law. It’s a unique position in a field with high potential for employment growth — projected at 9% between 2020 and 2030, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The journey to become a legal nurse consultant involves cultivating knowledge and skills through advanced education, such as an online Master of Science in Nursing program, and years of work as a registered nurse.
What Is a Legal Nurse Consultant?
As a member of a legal team, a legal nurse consultant operates at the intersection of law and health care, assisting in medically related legal cases concerning issues such as product liability, malpractice, and personal injury that involve patients and health care workers. The work of a legal nurse consultant encompasses research, strategy, analysis, education, and more. These consultants often collaborate with other health care professionals to create a safer and more efficient environment to deliver patient care.
Anyone interested in how to become a legal nurse consultant must understand the broad scope of the role’s responsibility. An effective legal nurse consultant ensures that attorneys and clients thoroughly understand the nursing, health care systems, and medicine relevant to their circumstances.
While the legal nurse consultant and nurse attorney roles overlap somewhat, they differ in that a nurse attorney requires a law degree and their skills are focused more on legal technicalities, process, and other legal details.
Legal nurse consultants may find employment in health care facilities, law firms, insurance companies, and anywhere that a comprehensive understanding of nursing practice is needed for legal integrity.
Legal Nurse Consultant Skills
Some general skills required for legal nurse consultants to effectively perform their day-to-day responsibilities include:
- Organization. A legal nurse consultant must be well organized and skilled at arranging files and information so it is easy to retrieve and identify at a glance.
- Communication. Effective communication is critical to a legal nurse consultant’s job performance, as it requires delivering clear and relevant information to a diverse set of recipients, including nurses, physicians, patients, patient families, and legal professionals.
- Critical thinking. Legal nurse consultants must be problem-solvers. They encounter complicated legal situations and must determine the best course of action that serves all parties involved in a case.
- Understanding legal terminology. Legal nurse consultants must be fluent in the legal terminology used in any given case. Although first and foremost they are health care professionals, a keen understanding of how health care and law intersect is essential to a legal nurse consultant’s practice.
Moreover, legal nurse consultants occupy a position with specific, unique responsibilities. In addition to the general skills listed above, they must also be adept at compiling evidence required for trial, drafting medical legal documents, identifying standards of care, conducting or participating in client interviews, and preparing care cost estimates.
Steps to Become a Legal Nurse Consultant
Becoming a legal nurse consultant involves years of study, experience, and clinical practice. A typical path to prepare for the role includes:
Earning a Foundational Nursing Education
Laying the foundation for a successful career as a legal nurse consultant entails earning an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN). ADN and BSN programs are designed to teach aspiring professionals the essentials of nursing that they’ll rely on throughout their careers.
Working as a Registered Nurse
After passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN), one can begin working as a registered nurse. Aspiring legal nurse consultants should spend five years accumulating experience as an RN or in an adjacent role to gain a competitive advantage in the legal nurse consultant job market.
Earning Advanced Education
After gaining experience as an RN, the next step toward an advanced career in nursing involves earning a graduate degree, such as a Master of Science in Nursing. MSN coursework involves specialized curricula to develop advanced practice nursing skills.
Completing a Legal Nursing Certification
Qualifying for work as a legal nurse consultant requires certification: Certified Legal Nurse Consultant (CLNC) or Legal Nurse Consultant Certified (LNCC).
An Education for the Determined Professional
With years of experience as a registered nurse behind you, you may be curious about the next step in how to become a legal nurse consultant. Hawai’i Pacific University’s online Master of Science in Nursing program is a smart choice for nurses who want to advance their careers and lay the groundwork for becoming legal nurse consultants. HPU understands your desire to grow and offers three in-demand concentrations to develop your clinical knowledge: Family Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, and Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Practitioner.
Explore some of the online MSN program’s featured courses, such as Advanced Pathophysiology and Health Care Policy and Program Planning, which are designed to equip students with the advanced skills and knowledge they’ll need to excel in this promising, competitive field.