Could Legal Nurse Consulting Transform Your Career?

Has your nurse practitioner career hit a bit of a rut? Is the regular old routine starting to wear on you? Or, maybe you love where you practice as much as ever but you could use something new on the side. One of my favorite things about being an NP is the endless number of ways to shake things up when it comes to your career. Recently, I was made aware of an exciting opportunity for nurse practitioners- legal nurse consulting.

To get some insight into how legal nurse consulting can add to your nurse practitioner experience, I consulted Vickie Milazzo, pioneer of the legal nurse consulting business for 32 years and counting. Here's what I learned from Vickie.

What is your background? How did you get involved in legal nurse consulting?

Vickie knows what she's talking about when it comes to life as a legal nursing expert. She single handedly pioneered the field beginning in 1982. After working as a critical care nurse for six years, she began consulting with attorneys in need of a medical perspective on legal cases. Seeing a need for more formal training for healthcare workers in her position, she created an educational program to train nurses interested in serving as legal experts. Her CLNC Certification is the first and most credible legal nurse consulting certification.

What exactly is legal nurse consulting?

If there's one area of nursing I have little background knowledge about, it's the life of a legal nurse. So, I listen intently as Vickie fills me in.

"Legal nurse consultants work with attorneys and/or insurance companies on any kind of medical case" Vickie says. From workers comp cases to toxicology and criminal cases, nurses may be involved in helping develop all types of medical legal cases. "The idea is that we [nurses] are educating attorneys about the medical questions behind a case" Vickie explains. Nurses may be involved in activities such as analysis of medical records, identifying a plaintiff's future medical needs and costs, consulting on medical research and literature, and educating attorneys on medical issues.

What does life as a legal nurse consultant look like?

To be a legal nurse consultant, nurses must develop relationships with attorneys involved in medical cases. They consult with this attorney regarding the details of the case offering a medical perspective. Vickie says a nurse needs only two to five attorney relationships to keep busy full-time as a legal nurse consultant. With more than 1,687,000 attorneys in the United States, opportunities are plentiful. The Vickie Milazzo Institute helps connect nurse members with attorneys through an online directory.

Nurses can take on as many or as few cases as they like making legal nurse consulting a full-time career option or an enriching opportunity as an aside to medical practice. "There are no geographical limitations to working as a legal nurse consultant" Vickie explains. Most of the work is done over the phone and email, so nurses can work with attorneys across the country, no travel or crazy schedule required.

How much are legal nurse consultants paid?

"I recommend asking for about $125 to $150 per hour for nurses and a little more for nurse practitioners" says Vickie. In the end, the hourly rate is agreed upon between the attorney and the nurse.

Am I qualified to be a legal nurse consultant?

There is no specific specialty or amount of experience required to work as a legal nurse consultant. "We get nurses from clinical areas, administration, and education backgrounds" Vickie says. No specific amount of nursing experience is necessary to work in the field although at least one year of experience is recommended. If you are comfortable working in your specialty, you are qualified. If you still have a big learning curve to conquer, then wait. "The key is knowing what you don't know" says Vickie, "If you don't know something you can always subcontract out that part of a case to another nurse".

The most important qualities in a legal nurse consultant are "strong verbal and written communication skills" Vickie notes. "You need to be able to translate what you know as a nurse into what is important to the attorney".

Legal nursing is not limited to RN's, nurse practitioners can get involved, too!

How do I get involved in legal nurse consulting?

Vickie's programs through The Vickie Milazzo Institute train nurses and NPs when it comes to the ins and outs of legal nurse consulting. Her institute offers three courses to help aspiring legal nurse consultants get started. "The 'Basic' option gives you everything you need to get started" Vickie says. This program involves either 40 hours of online training or a 6-day live seminar. The course covers topics from how you, the nurse, fit in the litigation process to analyzing medical-related cases. A certification test is required at the end of the course.

Once a student completes the course and becomes a member of the association, The Vickie Milazzo Institute provides mentoring opportunities, including live coaching, to help continue the legal education.

Becoming involved in legal nurse consulting is a great way to continue your nursing education, provide variety within your career, and supplement your income.

Will you get involved in legal nurse consulting?

 

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Looking for other ways to shake up your nurse practitioner career? Check out the MidlevelU Career Advisor Program for advice.