Nurse attorneys are dual-degree professionals who are licensed as registered nurses (RNs) and as attorneys that are able to practice law in one or more jurisdictions. These professionals can be found working in a number of practice areas which include administrative law, academia, risk management, litigation, patient safety, and regulatory compliance. Since they are both RNs and lawyers, nurse attorneys possess the uncanny ability to integrate law into a healthcare practice or organization, or they can handle healthcare concerns within a law practice.
Some of the duties carried out by nurse attorneys include, but aren't limited to, the following:
Nurse attorneys can work in both the legal and healthcare arenas, making their employment opportunities vast. Common workplace environments include:
Prospective nurse attorneys should have strong interests in both healthcare and law. To become a nurse attorney, you should be prepared to spend a significant amount of time in school since you will have to earn both nursing and law degrees. Often, individuals will choose to work in one of the fields while they're in school pursuing the other degree. Prospective students will first need to complete a BSN degree, since a bachelor's degree is generally required for law school. Most nurses will spend a number of years working in the medical field before they return to school to earn their law degree, but this is not always the case. To be admitted into law school, you'll need to take the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) which will assess your verbal and logical abilities. Most often, law school takes about three years to complete. Upon graduating, you must pass the bar exam. At this point, you can begin practicing as a nurse attorney for a wide variety of employers.
Nurse attorneys will need to hold both an active and unencumbered RN license as well as Juris Doctor degree (J.D.) so that they are eligible to practice law. A BSN will likely be required as a bachelor's degree is a requirement for law school.
Unlike many other nursing specialties, nurse attorneys do not require any special credentials other than a BSN degree and a law degree. That's not to say that acquiring nursing specialty certifications wouldn't help nurse attorneys who would like to focus on serving a specific patient population.
Because nurse attorneys are required to have two professional degrees (i.e. BSN and J.D.) which both take a substantial amount of time to complete, not only are they rare, but they're also in high demand. A career as a nurse attorney has a particularly positive job outlook since there's a growing need for attorneys who have expertise in the realm of healthcare.
According to ZipRecruiter, nurse attorneys are paid an average annual salary of $82,949. Nurse attorneys are qualified to work as lobbyists, legal consultants, hospital administrators, attorneys, and litigators. Their salaries will depend greatly on their specific field of employment. The salaries of nurse attorneys will also vary widely and be determined by factors like how much experience they have, the location of their employment, and the organization that they work for. Similar factors will determine the contents of employee benefits packages. However, most employers of nurse attorneys will provide their employees with extensive health insurance and retirement packages. It's also commonplace for nurse attorneys to enjoy paid vacation and sick leave.