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Legal Nursing Degree

Students pursuing a legal nursing degree build upon the foundations they’ve already achieved with either an associate’s or bachelor’s in nursing. They learn the intersection between their understanding of medical terminology and how to apply that in legal capacities. Legal nursing consultants (LNC) are nursing graduates who have gone back to school to work within a legal framework. They provide expert medical advice to those considering business or legal actions involving the medical field.

Did you know? Many legal nurse consultants choose to start their own independent consulting practice while still working at their nursing jobs. As their business grows they may reduce their hours working with patients or commit all their time to their business.

Source: American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants

Examples of courses in a legal nursing degree curriculum include:

  • Introduction to Legal Nurse Consulting
  • Legal Theory and Fundamentals
  • Legal Issues in Nursing Practice
  • Case Analysis for Long Term Care and Medical Malpractice
  • Case Analysis for Personal Injury and Worker’s Compensation
  • LNC Role in Discovery
  • Legal Research & Writing
  • Litigation and Trial Preparation
  • Courtroom Testimony by the Health Care Specialist
  • Establishing and Organizing a Practice as a Legal Nurse Consultant
  • Legal and Healthcare Ethics

Profiles of Legal Nursing Degree Programs

Nova Southeastern University offers a Master of Health Science: Health Law Concentration through a collaboration between its College of Health Sciences and Shepard Broad Law School. All courses in the curriculum are offered through distance learning, with one 1-2 day long residential institute required on the Fort Lauderdale campus for program completion. Specialized health law courses such as Legal Research Methods and Reasoning, Risk Management, Legal and Ethical Issues in Healthcare, and Law Accreditation/Licensing reflect the core focus of students enrolled in this degree program. A culminating practicum, during which students earn 5 credit hours, encourages students to apply their knowledge through the design of interventions for underserved or non-traditional populations under the supervision of a faculty advisor. Students who graduate this interdisciplinary post-professional program are prepared to apply their knowledge of the legal aspects of healthcare and pursue careers at the intersections of healthcare and law.

Post University awards a Legal Nurse Consulting Certificate upon completion of its specialized 30 credit hour legal nurse consulting program. Certificate courses include Civil Litigation Practice, Legal Research, Personal Injury Law, and Legal Writing. Students also complete a 120 clock hour legal studies internship in a law office or government agency. Graduates are prepared to professionally and ethically apply their legal and medical knowledge to researching legal issues, analyzing medical records, and writing informed opinions, among other core consulting tasks. All courses are offered online in 8 week modules, with six module start dates per year. On average, students complete the certificate in 17 months. Admission to the certificate program is open to all students who have earned at least a high school diploma or GED. Tutoring services and advisement are offered to enrolled students at no additional charge. Post University’s online programs have consistently been ranked among the best in the country by US News.

Job Opportunities for Legal Nursing Degree Program Graduates

There are a number of opportunities for these liaisons between two sectors. The principal one is consulting with attorneys, either in criminal or civil cases. A legal nursing degree holder can aid attorneys in digesting medical developments that will help them better portray the suffering of a client pursuing personal injury damages, for example. They can also work with insurance companies who are developing new policies or attempting to decide whether or not treatments are valid and should be covered by a current health insurance plan. According to the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants, specializations may include nurse expert witness, insurance industry consultant, forensic consultant, and risk manager.

Career Outlook and Salary for Legal Nurses

The Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t provide data on legal nurse salary but reports that registered nurses earn a median annual salary of $65,950 as of May 2011.1 One reason for a positive outlook for legal nurses is the large number of medical malpractice cases that continue to grow. In addition to other careers mentioned, patient advocacy is also a possibility, enabling legal nursing degree holders to help those seeking medical treatment get aid or support if they’re suffering financial difficulties.

Additional Legal Nurse Resources

American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants – A professional association for legal nurse consultants that provides career development opportunities.

Online Legal Nursing Degrees and Related School Programs

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1. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291111.htm