Nursing isn’t about Florence Nightingale with a lamp anymore! Besides the standard job description, there are fresh avenues of work opening up every day; with the proper qualifications and certification, a career nurse can step into any of these specialty occupations and chart a new map for success.
One such job, which has gained rapid popularity in the last few years, is that of a Legal Nurse Consultant (LNC). As the designation implies, this is a mix of the legal and nursing professions and requires additional training and certification. The rewards of becoming a legal nurse consultant are great! Not only will you earn a significantly higher salary than a standard Registered Nurse (RN), as an independent consultant, you could base your consultancy business out of your home and take on cases which only interest you. Of course, all this will come into play only after you’ve spent some time in the ‘trenches,’ but the time and efforts required are well worth it!
Basic requirements - In order to become a legal nurse consultant, you need to have the following:
- A valid and active Registered Nurse (RN) license (from the US or Canada)
- Certification as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant (CLNC)
Scope of job - A legal nurse consultant’s job involves the following:
- Analysis of medical issues in pending claims cases.
- Review of medical records and deciding on the merits or validity of suits filed for insurance or payment of civil damages.
- Conducting investigations on false or fraudulent medical claims, professional negligence cases, etc.
- Help the lawyers in preparing reports and other related documentation to be used in trials and help in recording witness depositions.
- Appear as an expert witness in a trial or help in locating an expert witness using one’s nursing and clinical knowledge, thereby ensuring the success of the party for whom the LNC is representing.
Places of work - As a legal nurse consultant, you could as an independent, self-employed consultant or as a salaried professional. Standard consultancy fees range between $100 and $125 per hour and base salaries begin at the $85,000 mark. Avenues which are open to LNCs include:
- Insurance companies
- Law firms – plaintiff and defense
- Federal, state or local government departments dealing with risk management in health care
- Hospitals and other health care facilities – as a salaried employee or independent consultant
- Health care consultancy firms
- Own medico-legal consultancy firm
If you’ve already put in several years of work as a registered nurse, then becoming a legal nurse consultant could be the next step to take your career into an exciting and very profitable area of work where your individual talents can be utilized to the fullest. With a few specialized online nursing classes and some follow-up work, you can be on your way toward a rewarding new career.