You can learn more about nursing and legal issues by visiting the Web sites of nursing and legal associations, reading books or magazines (such as The Journal of Legal Nurse Consulting, which is available from the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants) on the subjects, or conducting an information interview with a registered nurse, a legal nurse consultant, or a lawyer who specializes in health care issues. You might also visit hospitals to observe the work and to talk with hospital personnel.
Some hospitals now have extensive volunteer service programs in which students can work after school, on weekends, or during vacations. You can find other volunteer work experiences with the Red Cross or community health services.
To learn more about the legal aspects of legal nurse consulting, you might consider trying to get an internship at a law firm that specializes in health care law.
The American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants reports that legal nurse consultants work in a wide range of practice areas, including medical malpractice, other personal injury (auto, slip and fall, work injury), product liability, toxic torts, workers’ compensation, risk management, health care licensure investigation, Social Security disability, life care planning, case management, corporate and regulatory compliance, and billing fraud.
Legal nurse consultants' job responsibilities vary depending on the case and its medical implications. When working on a case, they may conduct client interviews, which involves talking to persons who feel they have a legal claim against a medical facility or doctor or nurse, or as a result of an accident.
They research past medical cases and treatments. They often advise attorneys regarding medical facts, treatments, and other medical issues that are relevant to a case. Legal nurse consultants obtain and organize medical records, and locate and procure evidence. They may identify, interview, and retain expert witnesses. They also assist with depositions and trials, including developing and preparing exhibits for jury or judge trials.
As part of legal teams, legal nurse consultants are often required to do considerable research and paperwork. Independent legal nurse consultants must complete their work within a strict deadline. They often work under a contract and must produce the records, information, and reports within a specified time frame.
In addition, self-employed legal nurse consultants must generate their own clients. This requires that they not only be nurses, but be business-minded as well and do their own marketing to the legal field. Independent legal nurse consultants need to learn and practice business skills such as marketing, sales, and record keeping. They need to learn to be aggressive and assertive and be their own salespeople to find work.