Although attorneys have comprehensive training in the law, they do not always understand complicated medical matters. A registered nurse who uses extensive clinical knowledge and experience to consult on health-care cases is called a legal nurse consultant (LNC).
An LNC provides a variety of services, including performing research, educating lawyers on medical facts and their relevance to a case, summarizing dense medical literature, examining and organizing records, and interviewing witnesses and finding experts. Types of cases an LNC might work on are workers’ compensation, malpractice, negligence, criminal, fraud, product liability, and personal injury. Sometimes, an LNC testifies as an expert witness in court.
For the registered nurse who has at least three years of clinical experience—especially in emergency medicine and intensive and critical care—becoming an LNC requires no other formal training. Some institutions, however, offer a certificate program in legal consulting for RNs.
These programs vary in depth, the type of material covered, and the time to complete, depending on the institution. RNs can sit for the Legal Nurse Consultant Certified (LNCC) exam, given by the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants, to further bolster their resumes.
Because of the nature of the work, an LNC can elect to work full- or part-time, depending on the employer. The pay generally ranges between $100 and $150 an hour. Legal nurse consultants can work for law firms, insurance companies, government agencies, hospitals, or private companies. Some LNCs open private consulting businesses.