Legal nurse consultants are registered nurses trained to provide medical counsel where legal matters are concerned. They help lawyers gain a better understanding of cases with medical issues. Legal nurse consultants often find themselves going through medical reports and records for legal cases that involve malpractice, personal injury, wrongful deaths, or workers’ compensation. To deliver on their job, they have to complete their training and get certified.
Legal Nurse Consultant Programs
Before they become legal nurse consultants, they have to become nurses first. They may complete a nursing diploma, associate degree, or bachelor’s degree in nursing. After completing their undergraduate nursing degree, they have to obtain their license by passing the National Council Licensure Examination for registered nurses (NCLEX-RN). They also need to gain experience in clinical nursing, with the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants (AALNC) requiring candidates to have five years of work experience as a registered nurse.
Aspiring legal nurse consultants may then pursue certificate programs. These programs teach registered nurses about the US legal system and what happens during the litigation process. They might be available in the form of traditional programs, online or hybrid programs. It is important though to look for programs that are approved by the American Bar Association.
Aside from learning about the legal system, students of the certificate programs in legal nurse consulting also improve their research skills. They may also get a mentor during the program. Their classes usually include risk management, contracts and torts, legal research and writing methods, ethical standards in healthcare and law, and medical malpractice law.
Online Legal Nurse Consultant Programs
Individuals who want a more flexible schedule without the hassle of going to a campus while they pursue legal nurse consultant programs may choose to complete the program online. However, most of these online programs are offered as certificate programs that can be completed in one or two years.
These online programs are typically made available to the students through course management systems such as Blackboard or Angel. These systems allow students to attend lectures, discuss with other students, submit assignments, and take exams online. Discussions may be done via emails, chats, or discussion boards.
Just like with on-campus programs, only students who have practiced as registered nurses are accepted. They need at least three years of experience. The online certificate program in legal nurse consulting usually consists of 15 to 25 credits and awards a certificate to the students upon completion.
Legal nurse consultant programs Certification Requirements
To get certified as a legal nurse consultant, one needs a valid RN license and compliance with other state licensure requirements. The most common state requirements, though, include at least five years of practical nursing experience and around 2,000 hours of experience as a legal nurse consultant within three years of application for certification.
The certification exam tests the consultant’s ability to understand healthcare records, standards, research materials, and costs in legal cases and help lawyers develop sustainable legal strategies. It also tests their ability to serve as liaison between clients, experts, witnesses, and vendors and as an expert witness.
Once they pass the exam, legal nurse consultants often need to renew their license every five years. Recertification has two options – retesting or completing 60 hours of continuing education courses.