The field of criminal justice offers numerous challenging, rewarding career opportunities, including Certified Legal Nurse Consultant (CLNC). This intriguing career option for nurses allows them to combine their “knowledge and understanding of medical, nursing and health-related issues” with educating “attorney-clients about the medical aspects of their cases.” In this capacity, the CLNC provides a valuable service to attorneys when their clients’ health or medical concerns are integral to medical-legal cases.
The minimum degree for entry-level legal nurse consultant (LNC) jobs generally is an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) degree, along with currently practicing as a licensed Registered Nurse (RN), and at least five years of experience. To become a certified LNC, the nurse must have completed 2,000 hours of legal nurse consulting within a 3-year period and then take and successfully complete a legal nurse consulting course.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not refer directly to Certified Legal Nurse Consultants, but rather to Registered Nurses in general. Since nurses are already part of an in-demand career, the BLS projects a 26 percent job growth rate between 2013 and 2020, considered faster than average among all occupations. This career option for nurses–pioneered in 1982 by nurse and attorney Vickie Milazzo, RN, MSN, JD–is also recognized by numerous healthcare and legal organizations as a growing and valuable profession.
How to Become a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant
In order to become a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant (CLNC), the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants (AALNC) makes the following recommendations:
- Follow a traditional nursing career path of obtaining at least an associate degree in nursing.
- Obtain a license to practice as a registered nurse.
- Accumulate at least five years of nursing experience.
Following these accomplishments, you can begin offering legal nurse consulting services in “medically-related litigation and other medical-legal matters.”
Once you accumulate 2,000 hours of consulting experience, you can then take a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant course and become a CLNC, or receive credentialing as a Legal Nurse Consultant Certified (LNCC). The LNCC credential is considered an area of specialized nursing and is offered through the Accreditation Board for Specialty Nursing Certification (ABSNC).
A CLNC or LNCC performs numerous tasks, including:
- Participating in interviews with clients.
- Identifying, organizing, and analyzing pertinent medical records.
- Preparing a chronology, timeline or other summary of documentation in medical records.
- Conducting medical literature searches and assisting in other research.
- Identifying applicable standards of care in medical malpractice cases.
- Evaluating case strengths and weaknesses.
- Drafting or analyzing medical portions of legal documents.
- Educating attorneys and clients regarding relevant medical issues.
- Serving as nurse expert witnesses.
How Education Can Help
Registered Nurses who want to become Certified Legal Nurse Consultants are already busy people, juggling responsibilities between their careers and their personal lives. The ongoing accessibility of online courses, combined with their flexible nature, provide nurses with the opportunity to pursue credentials to become certified as legal nurse consultants.
You can typically complete the legal nurse consultant online course in a time period ranging from about six to ten hours per each of eight modules for the ABSNC course, although you have up to 60 days per module, or one full year for the entire course.
The legal nurse consultant online course offered through the Vickie Milazzo Institute, recognized by the National Alliance of Certified Legal Nurse Consultants, contains 19 modules. You can potentially complete the course in as little as 40 hours.
Numerous schools of nursing in universities also offer comparable LNC/CLNC courses for under $1,000.
Legal nurse consultant courses cover such topics as:
- Introduction to Legal Nurse Consulting
- Roles of the Legal Nurse Consultant
- Litigation Process of Medical-Legal Cases
- Personal Injury and Workers Compensation
- Medical Records Tampering
- Medical Case Evaluation
- Legal Nurse Consultant Role as Expert Testimony
Considerations for a Career as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not specifically provide figures for Certified Legal Nurse Consultants, but does offer May 2010 salary and job outlook predictions for Registered Nurses as follows:
- Median annual wage was $64,690, but annual wages ranged from less than $44,190 to more than $95,130.
- Job outlook from 2013 to 2020 predicts a 26 percent increase in job openings, or a rise from 2010 figures of 2,737,400 to about 3,449,300 Registered Nurses employed by 2020.
Note the following input regarding salaries specifically for CLNCs:
Legal Nurse Consultant pioneer, Vickie Milazzo, notes that CLNCs may charge as much as $150/hour for their services.