Nurse Attorney

What Is a Nurse Attorney?

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.

What Are Some Nurse Attorney Duties?

Some of the duties carried out by nurse attorneys include, but aren't limited to, the following:

  • Review medical records
  • Analyze personal injury and insurance claims
  • Write or edit professional nursing or legal journals
  • Represent healthcare providers in malpractice lawsuits
  • Appear in court as an expert witness
  • Teach healthcare staff about rules and regulations of their job
  • Lobby for change in the healthcare industry
  • Work alongside risk management departments
  • Ensure that safe practices and protocols within healthcare organizations are being followed

Where Do Nurse Attorneys Work?

Nurse attorneys can work in both the legal and healthcare arenas, making their employment opportunities vast. Common workplace environments include:

  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Healthcare organizations
  • Insurance companies
  • Law firms
  • Private practice
  • Insurance companies
  • City, state and federal governments
  • Consulting agencies
  • Education
  • Freelance positions

How to Become a Nurse Attorney

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.

Step 1: Educational Requirements

  • Earn a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) from an accredited university or college
  • Pass the NCLEX-RN licensing exam
  • Acquire an RN license
  • Take the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT)
  • Earn a Juris Doctor degree (J.D.) from an accredited law school
  • Pass the State Bar Exam
  • Acquire license to practice law

Do Nurse Attorneys Need an RN Degree?

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.

Step 2: Required Nurse Attorney Certifications/Credentials

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.

Nurse Attorney Jobs, Salary & Employment

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.

Job Description & Information

  • Essential Skills Needed - Strong organizational skills, ability to perform detail-oriented tasks, strong communications skills (written and verbal), ability to meet tight deadlines, ability to work alone, self-directed, and extensive knowledge in both nursing and law
  • Job Outlook - The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that positions for registered nurses will rise by at least 16% between 2014 and 2024. Because nurse attorneys are required to have extensive educational backgrounds, it's only reasonable to expect their rates of employment to be similar to those of traditional RNs.

What Is the Average Salary of a Nurse Attorney?

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.

How Much Do Nurse Attorneys Make per Year?

  • $56,500 – $100,000 annually

How Much Do Nurse Attorneys Make per Hour?

  • $40.00 average hourly wage

Nurse Attorney Resources