Legal nurses provide consulting services to attorneys and other law professionals for litigation regarding healthcare issues. Legal nurses are registered nurses who transition into the legal field. Training programs teach nurses about the legal system and certification validates their experience and expertise.
|Required Education/Training||Registered Nurse License; Some law background|
|Required Experience||5 years of practical experience; 2,000 consulting hours in previous 3 years|
|Exam Requirements||4 hour, 200-question multiple-choice reading comprehension test|
|Job Growth (2012-2022)||All RNs: 19%*|
|Salary (2014)||All RNs: $66,640*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Legal Nurse Certification
Although legal nurse consultants are not required to earn their credentials, certification confirms their knowledge and experience in the field. Several private businesses offer course-based certification programs in legal nurse consulting, but the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants (AALNC) is the only non-profit organization offering an American Board of Nursing Specialties (ABNS) accredited certification (www.aalnc.org).
The American Legal Nurse Consultant Certification Board governs the Legal Nurse Consultant Certified (LNCC) certification program. To earn the LNCC credential, individuals must pass an examination. Exam eligibility includes being a licensed registered nurse in the U.S. or its territories, having at least five years of practical experience and showing proof of having 2,000 hours of legal nurse consulting experience within the past three years.
Work that satisfies the 2,000 hours of legal nurse consulting requirement must meet three criteria: work was performed at the client's request (client must be a business involved with legal matters), cases worked on required a registered nurse's expertise and duties performed were considered billable.
The exam assesses the nurse's ability to obtain and analyze healthcare records, research, standards, laws and costs regarding legal cases and how to work with clients to sustain their case strategies. Applicants are tested on their abilities to assist communication between clients, witnesses, experts and vendors. They are also evaluated on how well they provide expert testimony.
The largest part of the exam focuses on medical malpractice, followed by personal injury, product liability/toxic tort, workers' compensation, risk management, life care planning, administrative health law/regulatory compliance, elder law and criminal/forensics.
Renewal notification is sent to legal nurse consultants approximately one year before certification expiration. A current, unrestricted registered nurse license, proof of 2,000 hours of legal nurse consulting work within the last five years, either passing the LNCC exam or submitting 60 eligible contact hours and a fee are required for LNCC renewal. Eligible contact hours are earned through continuing education classes, academic coursework, presentations and publications. All contact hours must be earned during the current certification period.
Legal Nurse Training Program Information
According to AALNC, most legal nurse consultants don't have a law background when they shift from clinical nursing to legal consulting. How nurses choose to learn about the legal system is up to them. There are formal legal nurse consulting training programs, paralegal programs, seminars, on-the-job training opportunities or self-study. The AALNC publishes a text, 'Legal Nurse Consulting: Principles and Practices,' as a comprehensive self-study guide.
Legal Nurse Certificate Programs
Some colleges and universities offer legal nurse certificate programs. Eligible candidates are registered nurses with active licenses. Some programs may have additional requirements such as a specified amount of time spent working as a nurse, computer skills and language fluency.
During the legal nurse training program, students learn the roles of legal nurse consultants and performance standards, as well as legal theory and law fundamentals. They also learn how to analyze personal injury, workers' compensation, medical malpractice and other cases. While learning about the legal nurse consultant's role in discovery, students learn the discovery phase process, how to prepare evidence and prepare for trials. Business classes that teach students how to develop business plans, market their skills and track billable hours are also included.
Employment Outlook and Salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't have data specific to legal nurses. It indicated that the registered nurses were expected to see their employment opportunities improve from 2012 until 2022 by a rate of 19%. In May 2014, the BLS found registered nurses earned a median of $66,640.