Guide to Legal Nursing and Nurse Paralegal Career Paths

While we all know nursing specializations like midwifery and anesthetist, many nurses don’t realize they have an option like nurse paralegal or legal nurse consultant. Prospective healthcare professionals who are looking into a career choice between nurse paralegal vs legal nurse consultant need first ask “What is a nurse paralegal?” There are actually many key differences between this profession and that of an MSN legal nurse consultant, including education and certification, that come up when prospective legal nursing professionals look at the comparison between nurse paralegal vs legal nurse consultant.

What Is A Nurse Paralegal & What Is An MSN Legal Nurse Consultant?

Nurse paralegal and legal nurse consultants have pretty similar roles. Both of them often work as expert witnesses and researchers on malpractice cases. Nurse paralegals differ mostly in their mode of employment. Most nurse paralegals are full-time registered nurses working within a malpractice law firm. These malpractice law firms specialize in representing clients who are bringing cases against medical institutions they feel have not treated them properly. Of course, medical institutions, especially large medical institutions, also often have attorneys and paralegals on staff. Nurse paralegals may also work in these capacities.

Legal nurse consultants, however, are usually self-employed. They will hire themselves out on a case-by-case basis to hospitals or law firms. To put it simply, legal nurse consultants have more freedom and flexibility in their work, but they do have similar duties to nurse paralegals. While an MSN is not necessary to become a legal nurse consultant or paralegal, having a master’s of science or even doctorate in nursing can drastically increase your career opportunity.

How Do I Become A Legal Nurse Consultant?

Many professionals looking to enter this field are asking themselves the question “how do I become a legal nurse consultant?'” They may be asking themselves “how do I become a certified legal nurse consultant,” but passing a legal nurse consultant certification exam is not required to work in this field. However, taking a legal nurse consultant certification exam is usually done after completing one of the many in-person nurse paralegal programs or one of the various nurse paralegal online programs. These face-to-face nurse paralegal programs and even the nurse paralegal online programs each strive to answer the question “how do I become a certified legal nurse consultant?” for different demographics of students. The best legal nurse consultant program for one student may not be the best legal nurse consultant program for another student.

Note: While nursing is one of the most diverse careers, paralegals are overwhelmingly Caucasian – nearly 80%. For healthcare justice, more racial diversity in legal nursing is crucial, especially among Latinx and African-American nurses.

Many working RNs looking for a change, and even many prospective nursing professionals, are interested in becoming legal nurse consultants. Legal nurse consulting is a fairly new field, and so it does not have one defined path to becoming active in the profession. There are several different ways that a nurse can become a legal nurse consultant. Of course, the first is to get an RN license. It would also be advisable for prospective legal nurse consultants to have years of experience in nursing, especially working with legal cases.

In addition to a nursing education, those that want to become legal nurse consultants may want to complete a legal studies certificate. There are also seminars offered by the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants. Attending one of these seminars is the closest thing to a certification in the legal nurse consultant field. Law firms and hospitals that may employ legal nurse consultants will recognize education from the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants, as it is the most prestigious organization in the sector. The final step to becoming a legal nurse consultant is to simply take a leap and open up your own legal nurse consulting business. Before doing this, it may be a good idea to make as many contacts in the legal healthcare field as possible to ensure a steady stream of work.

What Does A Legal Nurse Consultant Do & What Does A Nurse Paralegal Do?

Many looking to enter this field start by asking themselves “what does a legal nurse consultant do?” or “what does a nurse paralegal do?” Before doing any of this, however, healthcare professionals must have a clear understanding of the duties of a nurse paralegal job and they must know what legal nurse consulting firms do.

Legal nurse consulting firms are one of the main sources of employment in this sector, as are remote nurse paralegal jobs. In fact, healthcare professionals may find that the highest available nurse paralegal salary is from one of those remote nurse paralegal jobs. Otherwise, the highest pay in the sector can usually be found with a nurse attorney salary. This term is often used interchangeably with “nurse paralegal salary.” Just a quick look at the salary numbers shows that the answer to the question “Are legal nurse consultants in demand?” is a resounding yes. However, many people simply want to ask questions like “What is the salary like?” and “Are legal nurse consultants in demand?” without asking too much about the duties of these positions.

As previously mentioned, the duties of these two professions are very similar. Both nurse paralegals and legal nurse consultants will mainly work on malpractice cases. They will advise and research whoever employs them. Many nurse paralegals, as previously mentioned work for law firms that specialize in malpractice. They could also work for the general counsel offices of healthcare institutions. Legal nurse consultants will also advise, witness, and perhaps even speak in court on legal medical matters. They usually have their own consulting business and hire themselves out on a freelance basis. As mentioned above, this is the most important distinction between the everyday work of a nurse paralegal and a legal nurse consultant.

What Is An Average Legal Nurse Consultant Salary & How Many Legal Nurse Consultant Jobs Are There?

With nurse burnout at an all-time high, thanks to a challenging nursing shortage, many nurses are looking for high-paying alternative careers where they can still use their expertise. Legal nurse consulting can be one of the best-paid nursing careers.

Many prospective legal nursing professionals are primarily interested in the average legal nurse consultant salary and in the number of legal nurse consultant jobs in their area. The number of jobs available and the average salary is heavily dependent on the area that the nursing professional is searching for jobs in. In general, rural areas will have fewer jobs and pay less, while urban areas will have more jobs and a higher average salary.

The average salary for a legal nurse consultant varies widely. One of the main reasons for this is that legal nurse consultants earn consulting fees and not a set salary. The income from a legal nurse consulting business can range from $60,000 or so on the low end up to $100,000 for a successful legal nurse consulting business. A professional running a nurse consulting business who has several employees under him or her may even be able to make more than this. There aren’t that many legal nurse consulting jobs out there. In general, those that want to become legal nurse consultants need to create their own jobs by starting their own businesses.

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