The medical world and the legal world often collide, and cases of medical fraud or medical malpractice are excellent examples of such collisions. Since judges, lawyers, and members of the jury aren't generally familiar with the world of medicine and medical terminology, they often need assistance from medical experts to fill in their knowledge gaps. Legal nurse consultants (LNCs) do just that. The legal nurse consulting specialty is a relatively new one, taking root in the late 1970s, and establishing itself further in 1989 with the formation of the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants. Not only are these RNs experts in clinical medicine, but they have an excellent grasp on the legal aspects of medicine and the inner workings of the wider healthcare industry. LNCs commonly assist legal professionals in personal injury, worker's compensation, medical malpractice, insurance fraud, and other cases.
Duties that legal nurse consultants are commonly tasked with typically include:
LNCs can find employment in a number of medical and legal settings, including:
Breaking into the field of legal nurse consulting means first becoming a fully registered nurse. A keen interest in both nursing and law are required for this role. Most employers of legal nurse consultants will want their employees to have at least a couple of years of experience in the nursing field. LNC aspirants can acquire a formal training course and certification in legal nurse consulting through the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants (AALNC). Needless to say, individuals who are certified will definitely have a competitive advantage over those who are not.
To become a legal nurse consultant, the following educational requirements must be met:
Yes, legal nurse consultants at the very least should hold active and unrestricted RN licenses along with a BSN degree or higher. In some cases, LNCs will hold law degrees (J.D.) as well.
The Legal Nurse Consultant Certification (LNCC) can be acquired through the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants (AALNC) and American Legal Nurse Consultant Certification Board (ALNCCB). It's the only certification of its kind that's accredited by the American Board of Nursing Specialties. To be eligible for the certification you'll need to have fulfilled the following requirements prior to submitting your application:
*Certifications are valid for five years
Legal nurse consultants have a unique knowledge set which makes them highly desirable to a wide range of employers in both the legal and medical fields. LNCs and other professionals who bridge the gap between these two areas have an extra advantage over those who have a more limited knowledge base.
According to PayScale, the average annual salary of a legal nurse consultant is approximately $78,000. In addition to their yearly base salaries, LNCs can expect to receive a range of employee benefits which traditionally include things like medical insurance, retirement plans, life insurance options, and an allotment of annual paid time-off/sick leave. The salaries and benefits that LNCs receive from their employers will vary from employer to employer and depend on factors like location, experience level, what certifications and/or credentials they hold, and education level.