How to Become a Legal Nurse

As the name implies, a legal nurse serves as the bridge between the complexities of the medical and the legal professions.  The medical issues relevant to a legal case are analyzed and explained in detail to the concerned persons, be it the lawyers and judges as well as the litigants and plaintiffs.  It is a profession where expertise in disparate fields is well rewarded.

For your preparatory education, you must be a registered nurse holding a valid license to practice before you can aspire to become a legal nurse.  There are three paths towards becoming a registered nurse in terms of education and experience.

First, you can go the traditional route by finishing the 4-year degree in Bachelor of Science in Nursing in colleges and universities.  Second, you may also opt for the shorter 3-year Associates Degree in Nursing supplemented by practical experience in a hospital setting.

Third, you can take the lees popular but still valid option of the hospital diploma plan that allows on-the-job training with nurses and educators supplemented with non-nursing classes in the community college.  In all instances, you have to pass the state licensure examination to secure your license as a registered nurse.


Gail Esparan 

After getting your license, you have two options in becoming a legal nurse.  First, you may return to the nursing school of your choice to secure an advanced degree with specialization in legal nursing.  This is often the more popular choice because of the prestige of the advanced degree, not to mention that it serves as a refresher of the things learned during college.

Second, you can get the appropriate certification.  Keep in mind that this is an option in the legal nursing profession but it will provide for an edge since certification becomes proof of your compliance with education and competency standards as well as in a demonstration of your commitment to professional development.

The certification is obtained through the American Legal Nurse Consultant Certification Board (ALNCCB) through a certification exam.  Compulsory eligibility requirements are valid license as a registered nurse, minimum 5 years work in the profession, and 2,000 hours of experience as a legal nurse consultant.

In either instance, you will be able to work in law firms, government offices, hospitals, insurance companies and even in forensic agencies.  You may even run an independent consulting service that the abovementioned offices can hire.

Your scope of work can cover medical issues related to personal injury, workers' compensation and toxic torts litigation, medical licensure investigation, criminal and elder law, and product liability cases.   For your expertise, you will be paid anywhere from $125 to $150 an hour as an independent consultant or a median salary of approximately $72,000 to $84,000 per year as an employee depending on many factors.

So, if you are thinking of becoming a legal nurse, then get your nursing license first, acquire clinical experience in the field, aim for your advanced degree or certification ans write a great legal nurse resume.  With determination, you will become a legal nurse in a few years' time and enjoy the benefits of the profession.