Online Graduate Degree Program in Legal Nurse Consulting

Legal nurse consulting (LNC) is a niche field in which experienced registered nurses (RNs) draw upon medical expertise to consult on healthcare-related legal cases. Online degrees aren't available in this field, but read on to explore LNC graduate certificate coursework and career options.

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Program Overview

Legal nurse consulting incorporates healthcare theories and knowledge with the practice of law. An online graduate certificate program in this field emphasizes the philosophical, ethical and theoretical law practices as related to the healthcare field, and typically culminates in a practicum. Online certificate programs in LNC are usually offered by traditional universities and colleges.

These distance learning programs may award college credit at the graduate level and require that applicants have a bachelor's degree. Other schools offer online legal nurse consulting certificates through their continuing education departments. In these cases, students may be able to follow a more self-paced format and could earn professional development -- but not college -- credits. Regardless of the program type, prospective students must be RNs and submit licensure verification.

Common Coursework

This online graduate certificate program focuses on the practices and principles of conducting legal nursing research, along with the interpretation of legal documents and common issues in a medical setting. The curriculum may include the following classes:

  • Legal nurse consultant introduction
  • Personal injury law
  • Healthcare ethics
  • Medical research
  • Civil practice

In addition to distance learning classes, programs may require a practicum that allows students to build real-world experience under the supervision of a legal professional.

Online Learning

The online curriculum typically follows the same syllabus as a LNC campus-based program; however, classes are delivered through flexible online course management tools. Distance learners can access lectures, presentations, assignments and other resources at a time that's convenient for them, provided they meet due dates. Virtual classrooms usually feature ways to interact with peers and instructors as well.

Career Info

Upon completion of a graduate-level program, certificate holders are qualified to take a certification exam offered by the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants (AALNC) to become legal nurse consultant certified (LNCC); however, this certification isn't required to work in the field. To be eligible for certification, graduates must possess current RN licensure and have five years of RN experience along with 2,000 hours of LNC experience.

Job Prospects

Legal nurse consultants are eligible for positions in hospitals, government agencies, law firms and insurance companies. They may also be self-employed and work as independent contractors for law firms and insurance companies. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, career opportunities for RNs, including legal nurse consultants, are expected to be excellent for the 2012-2022 period, with jobs growing in the nursing field faster than average (www.bls.gov). Wage compensation for legal nurse consultants varies greatly depending experience and position according to the AALNC (www.aalnc.org).

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