Certified Legal Nurse Consultant
A legal nurse consultant (LNC) is defined as a person who uses his or her medical expertise to assist with a variety of legal tasks such as helping lawyers in the litigation process and investigating medical malpractice claims. The nurse consultant evaluates and analyzes available relevant information and then gives an informed medical and legal opinion about the matters at hand.
Legal nurse consulting has been around for a very long time. In the beginning, nurses were not required to obtain any formal education to become a consultant. Almost all of them learned “on the job”, gleaning information about the law from working with lawyers and law enforcement or going to seminars. The nurses came from a variety of educational disciplines and clinical experiences.
Today, however, nurses that want to become LNCs can benefit greatly from completing a formal educational program. In fact, the nurses who founded the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants started the organization in 1989 because they wanted to share their experiences in the profession, promote the legal nurse consulting as a viable career option, and provide information to professionals about the best way to enter the field.
Tips for Choosing and Educational Institution
Surprisingly enough, formal educational training is not required to become a legal nurse consultant. However, employers prefer to hire people that already have some knowledge and training in the legal field. While you may be able to find a few places that will provide on-the-job training, you will be eligible for many more job opportunities if you earn a degree. Here are a few things to consider when searching for a good educational institution.
Institution’s Reputation: A variety of community colleges, vocational colleges, four-year colleges and universities, for-profit schools, and non-profit organizations offer relevant training for the legal nurse consulting field. To find the best school, be sure to look at the schools’ reputations in their communities and their accreditation.
Educational Program: As noted before, legal nurse consulting programs is offered by numerous schools and organizations. It is critical that the educational program be geared towards nurses entering the legal nurse consulting profession and not for those looking to enter paralegal or legal secretary work. This is because of the fundamental difference in program focus. The focus an LNC program should be on building upon the nurse’s existing medical education and clinical experience by adding another layer of legal knowledge and skills. When looking at a particular program, look at its mission statement to verify it is aligned with this goal.
Quality of Program Instructors and Directors: The best programs are ones that have been developed and are administered by educators in nursing and law. Consider the education and experience of the teachers and program directors. Preferably some or all of them will have experience as legal nurse consultants or have been educated and worked in the field of nursing and/or law.
Curriculum: The core of the educational program should be based on the AALNC recommended Legal Nurse Consulting: Principles and Practice. Otherwise, nurses should choose a program that aligns best with their personal and professional goals.
Legal Nurse Consultant Certification
Completing a certificate program is not the same as earning a certification in legal nurse consulting. It is important for this distinction to be made because some nurses place the letters “LNC” after their names to add an air of authority to it. Certificate programs are simply educational degrees and should only be noted in the appropriate place on a resume.
The only time lettering can be added after your name is after successfully obtaining a credential offered by a nursing certification board. Credentialing confirms that an individual has reached a certain level of education and skill in a particular specialty. The only LNC credential available at this time is through the American Board of Nursing Specialties. It is called the Legal Nurse Consultant Certified (LNCC) credential.
LNCC was developed to promote a certain level of professionalism and expertise in the legal nurse consulting field. To obtain the credential, nurses must meet certain eligibility requirements and earn a passing score on an exam that tests their knowledge and skills. Although not required, it is a good idea to pursue certification. Having this credential will give you a leg up on the competition in the job market and prove to employers that you are committed to your profession.