Legal nurse consulting is a career that combines key competencies required for nurses, lawyers and business consultants. On the upside, there are many perks to this challenging role – traditionally, you don’t have to work long hours that are often associated with nursing. Also, you can work from home, be your own boss, focus on administrative and consultative tasks, and with certification and experience, you continue to learn on the job as the days go by. However, in spite of its many advantages, there are also challenges that legal nurse consultants face.
- Education and learning: As previously mentioned, the key to becoming a good legal nurse consultant is to pursue the necessary educational qualifications. If you’re an RN with three years of experience (this is a prerequisite), you could sign up for an online degree, a great option when you don’t want to take time off your job or from raising your family. Online classes are not easy however. They are as rigorous as traditional classes, and you have to be disciplined enough to devote the time and effort required to be successful. Also, you have to become certified if you want the credentials to be considered an expert in the field. Be prepared to continue your education in order to maintain your certification.
- Paperwork and drudgery: A legal nurse consultant’s job is a far cry from a regular nursing job – if you deal with patients, it would only be on a consultative basis and not in the role as a caregiver. This means that you would have to deal with routine and mundane tasks like preparing reports and doing other paperwork, all of which could seem like drudgery after the exhilarating and varying experiences you would have undergone in a hospital setting looking after patients. It can be difficult to take over the management of routine tasks initially.
- Communication and credibility: Legal nurse consultants are often called as expert witnesses to provide testimony in cases where the plaintiff or defendant is or was a patient. You may initially be responsible only for assessing the case and analyzing its viability in court; however, there will come a time when you are called to witness stand, and if you’re not prepared, your credibility is at stake. The key to being a good and credible witness is to work on your conviction, your ability to communicate just the facts alone effectively, and your capability to stand firm in your testimony no matter how much you’re badgered by an attorney. It can be challenging and scary for new legal nurse consultants at first, but most find that it gets easier with more experience.
Legal nurse consulting offers a variety of roles in a number of settings for nurses who are qualified. Some find it a welcome change from patient care, but make sure you understand what your responsibilities will be so you’re choosing the career path that’s best for you.
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