Why Do Nurses Become Legal Nurse Consultants?

Category: Legal Nurse     Author: Georgina Tyburski     Posted: Friday - July 15, 2022

Legal nurse consulting is one of the newest yet fastest-growing nursing specialties. In the 1980s, nurse expert witnesses were increasingly called into the courtroom as medical malpractice litigation rose throughout the United States. Attorneys discovered that these nurses were incredibly helpful when reviewing voluminous amounts of medical records and explaining topics with which someone outside of the medical field would not necessarily be familiar. In 1989, several nurses joined together to find the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants, and the title of “Legal Nurse Consultant” (LNC) became more widely known.

Registered nurses are generally drawn to legal consulting for two reasons: career flexibility and a passion for quality patient care.

The draw of career flexibility is easy to understand, as few specialties offer as much flexibility in schedule and salary as legal nurse consulting. LNCs can work in a law office, for large medical or industrial companies, or from home as independent contractors. They can work weekdays, weekends, evenings, full-time, or part-time on their days off from another job. Especially if working for a law office or another company, the schedule often follows a regular 9-5 which, for a nurse coming from 12-hour shifts at the bedside with rotating weekends and holidays, can be a welcome change of pace.

It may be surprising that a passion for quality patient care would draw a nurse away from the bedside. However, most nurses with this fiery drive are fully committed to not only improving patient care but improving the entire healthcare system. LNCs are in a unique position to raise awareness of systems and processes that no longer work and that require transformation. On a personal level, LNCs can help bring closure to suffering patients and families while sparking change within an institution to ensure that an error is never made again. More often than not, LNCs who are passionate about patient care enjoy providing education and are incredibly detail-oriented, a vital quality in this specialty field. Education is at the core of all medical interactions, and all new nurses quickly learn to translate complicated medical terminology into plain language for patients. LNCs experience educating a completely new audience outside of standard patient-family interactions while performing detailed medical research to expand their knowledge.

Becoming an LNC requires dedication and innovation. Whatever the initial attraction, the nurse that chooses this specialty and pursues it relentlessly will be able to craft any type of work-life they desire.