For as long as I can remember, I've always dreamed of being an attorney — specifically a District Attorney. The first time I watched the Perry Mason television show, I enjoyed seeing the courtroom depicted as a game. There are the players, the battles in court, and the undeniable evidence. Oh, how I love the evidence!
Legal Nurse Consultants (LNCs) are integral members of the legal team. We provide interpretation, feedback, and analysis of medical documents for the client and attorney. The goal is to evaluate the pieces to assemble the puzzle. Scrutiny and attention to detail are essential characteristics, in addition to quickly adapting to an ever-changing environment.
What Are the Typical Responsibilities of a Legal Nurse Consultant?
Individual qualifications needed for a legal nurse consultant (LNC) vary depending on the area of law one would like to work in.
The different areas include:
- Workmen's compensation
- Life planning
- Medical malpractice
- Testifying as a professional witness
- Preparing reports
- Reviewing deposition transcripts
- Preparing for depositions and/or trials
LNCs play a vital role in providing the future determination of long-term care needs related to financial and daily living costs calculated for the patient's lifetime.
It is paramount for LNCs to ensure that the legal team has a thorough understanding and interpretation of medical reports and realizes the potential outcome of the condition the medical issues will cause.
These reports provide valuable insight for attorneys, who need to have a vital and clear understanding of current medical conditions and how it will affect their clients in the years to come.
What Should Nurses Entering This Specialty Expect To Encounter on a Regular Basis?
Interestingly enough, the law is not about the truth, it is about the law, and what can be proven within the bounds of the law. The LNC understands that the law is the law. Court cases are judged based on what can be proven within the confines of the law.
You will encounter people at the worst time in their life. People like attorneys who are burned out and keep going to fight for the underserved. You will have strict deadlines, deadlines that if not followed can ruin an entire case. Be prepared to work in a high-paced and fast environment with the ability to change task at any moment.
To be successful as a LNC, it’s important to be a critical thinker, capable of multitasking, and utilize clear communication skills for interviewing people. Being inquisitive and curious enough to ask the tough questions will take you far.
Education is imperative to becoming a well-rounded and successful LNC. After working as a registered nurse (RN), you can pursue a LNC career by attending a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant Course, or obtaining your Paralegal Certificate and working in a law office. The certification programs are relatively inexpensive and are the most common way to earn your certification.
LNCs will utilize their variety of skills and experience as a nurse to read and interpret medical reports. Nursing specialties that can potentially prepare a nurse to work as a LNC include previous experience in the legal field, rehabilitation skilled nursing facility, Hospice, or home healthcare.
A well-rounded nursing experience enables LNCs to read and interpret intricate and variegated reports that will connect the medical and legal world.
My Experience as a Legal Nurse Consultant
My experience as a LNC is in civil law. I worked as a paralegal preparing medical reports, attending medical appointments, calendaring, filing, and writing demand letters. Currently, I settle accounts with Medicare and Medi-Cal, attend medical appointments with clients, review medical reports, and write extensive reports in regards to disease processes and injuries.
One of my favorite tasks was to testify in arbitration. The testimony I offered brought a large settlement to a family that would not have been paid for future medical expenses or medical needs.
The case also brought an awareness regarding the importance of safe clinical practice to my own nursing practice. I have utilized these examples in the process of helping other nurses focus on safe clinical practice to prevent harm.
Share Your Favorite Piece of Advice for Nursing New Grads or Students Looking To Become a Legal Nurse Consultant
Law is a fast-paced and high-energy career that requires quick thinking and swift problem-solving skills. Pay for positions varies from minimum wage roles to hourly wages to positions that will pay a percentage of the award.
It is up to you to negotiate your rates. Remember, negotiation is a business transaction, not a friendship. Be strong and decisive.
Spend time learning about the different types of law and which type of law would be most interesting for you. While attending court hearings, speak to attorneys and give them a mini-bio about yourself.
Bring goodies to the office staff; they are the ones that will send business to you. Continue to enhance your direct patient-care skills. Having a working knowledge of the different environments will enhance your knowledge as you review medical records.
Good luck in all your endeavors! The hard work will be worth it in the end.
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