How to Become a Legal Nurse Consultant
Legal nurse consulting is a field in which licensed registered nurses with experience use their medical expertise to consult with attorneys and others associated with healthcare legal issues. You can also acquire jobs working in the insurance industry, government agencies and hospitals.
Registered nurses who wish to specifically concentrate on a legal consulting career need only to pursue a graduate certificate in legal nurse consulting in order to promote legal principles and theories by researching and interpreting healthcare law. The Internet makes it quite convenient for nursing professionals to continue their education at online schools, and you can study at your convenience to obtain a graduate certificate in legal nurse consulting online.
The American Board of Nursing Specialties program (ABNS) trains and also awards legal nursing certification. However, you are not compelled to attend the ABNS program for legal consultation certification since online schools offer the same training and certification as well. Online certification is very convenient for registered nurses who have a busy schedule and cannot find time to attend a campus-based training program.
Meet Basic Computer Skills
You must meet basic computer equipment and Internet connectivity skills prior to pursuing your online training and certification program. Those skills will enable you to access presentations, lectures, assignments and other supporting resources when you begin the online training program. While you train for this specialty, you will immediately observe that the graduate certificate program’s syllabus strongly emphasizes philosophical, theoretical and ethical law affecting issues in the medical field.
Precertification requirements stipulate that you must have completed 2000 hours of legal nurse consulting experience within the last three years. That work must be identified as registered nurse’s expertise that was billable. The work must be confirmed as having been requested by the client. The consulting work that you performed must have been conducted through a legal business organization.
You will be given a legal nurse consultant introduction at the beginning of the training course. Legal nurse consulting specialty classes generally include medical research, healthcare ethics, civil practice and personal injury law. The nursing research aspect of the program may have you interpreting legal documents and other issues that involve medical circumstances.
Candidates for legal nurse consulting training are taught how to analyze personal injury, medical malpractice and workmen’s compensation. They learn the discovery aspects of a legal discovery process, study how to gather evidence and how to prepare evidence for a trial. Business classes teach students how to develop business plans and market their skills. Most importantly, the legal consulting nurse learns how to keep track of billable hours.
Legal Nurse Certification Exam
The exam measures your ability to obtain and examine health care records. Your ability to foster communications between clients, experts and witnesses will be evaluated. The exam also measures how effectively you provide expert testimony. Focus is placed on personal injury and medical malpractice, elder law and criminal forensics, product liability toxic civil wrong laws, risk management and life care planning.
Once you are certified, you will be sent a renewal notification one year before the certification expires. You must be in possession of a current and unrestricted registered nurse license in order to be recertified. You are expected to produce proof to confirm that you completed 2000 hours of legal nurse consulting work in the last five years.
You have the option of submitting 60 eligible contact hours and a fee or pass the certification exam outright for renewal. Eligible contact hours are gained through continuing education classes, presentations and publications or academic coursework. Note that all contact hours must be accomplished during the current certification period.
Nursing is identified by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as the largest healthcare occupation with a salary range of $58,000. However, that figure increases depending on the nursing specialty you choose as a career.
A freelance legal nurse consultant can earn from $100 to $250 per hour and can also work for a law firm for up to $60,000 or more annually depending on work experience. Independent or freelance legal nursing consultants may choose to work from home or set up a commercial office site. They are allowed by law to claim income tax deductions for business expenses that relate to their businesses.
Geographic Location Influences Higher Salaries
Legal nursing consultants in New York, California and Maryland earn salaries between $87,500 and $110,000 per year while consultants in Texas and Georgia earn from $78,000 to $82,000 annually. These salary quotes are based on Pay Scale’s findings.