Become a Registered Nurse Paralegal
A registered nurse paralegal, also referred to as a legal nurse consultant, works with attorneys and assists them with medical-related cases. Duties of a registered nurse paralegal include analyzing medical records, researching medical issues, providing expert testimony, and performing case evaluation. Nursing itself can be physically demanding, with many hours spent standing and the occasional need to move or lift patients. Paralegal work may involve travel for research and many hours spent in offices and law libraries.
|Degree Level||Associate's degree, certificate|
|Degree Name||Nursing, legal nurse consulting|
|Licensing||Nurses must obtain a license|
|Experience||Nursing experience is required|
|Key Skills||Research skills, detail-oriented, ability to analyze cases|
|Salary (2016)||$72,510 yearly (median for legal nurse consultants)|
Steps to Become an RN Paralegal
Let's take a look at the steps needed to become a registered nurse paralegal.
Step 1: Earn an Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN)
An associate's degree in nursing will prepare graduates to work as a registered nurse. Nursing programs will feature both academic coursework and practical experience in the field. The 2-year program will include courses in nursing fundamentals, nursing pharmacology, pediatric nursing, surgical nursing and nursing leadership.
Consider a bachelor's degree. Some law firms may prefer applicants who have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). This program will build upon the associate's degree program and provide individuals with additional nursing education and training.
Step 2: Obtain Licensure
After graduating from a nursing program, individuals will need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for registered nurses (NCLEX-RN). This exam is offered through the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) and is required to practice in the field.
Step 3: Gain Nursing Experience
Applicants to legal nurse consulting programs must have full-time nursing experience. Experience entails treating and educating patients on their injuries and ailments, recording medical histories, performing medical tests and more. It is important for those wishing to advise legal authorities to demonstrate a complete understanding of healthcare protocols, processes, communication, and administration.
Step 4: Earn a Legal Nurse Consultant Certificate
Registered nurses intending to work in the legal field may apply to a legal nurse consulting program at an institution of higher learning. Students learn about law policies and procedures and concentrate on legal issues related to the medical field. The program typically consists of about 25 hours of coursework and reward successful students with a certificate.
For the best chance of success, achieve certification from the AALNC. Registered nurse paralegals can earn certification and advancement by passing an examination offered by the American Legal Nurse Consultant Certification Board (ALNCCB). This board, a branch of the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants (AALNC), bestows industry-recognized certification showing that recipients have a mastery of concepts crucial to working in the field. In addition to five years of nursing experience and a current nursing license, certification applicants must have at least 2,000 hours of legal experience.
A registered nurse paralegal must have an associate's or bachelor's degree, obtain licensure by passing the NCLEX-RN, gaining nursing experience, and earning a legal nurse consultant certificate.