NURSING AND THE LAW
People ask me why I went into law from nursing. It is not a divine plan, I simply got divorced and had a great attorney and said to myself, “I can do this.” But really, it is the best thing that I have ever done. I get to combine two fields that I love and both involve taking care of people.
As a nurse, someone does not come in with a sign over their head saying “alteration and comfort.” You have to assess, plan, intervene and evaluate. The same is true in law. A person does not have a sign over their head saying “tort” or “contract.” You have to assess, plan, intervene and evaluate.
Many nurses are dissatisfied with the politics of nursing and are leaving the profession. If you are thinking about going into law whether as an attorney or a legal nurse consultant, there are several things you should think about. First is that although the process of assess, plan, intervene and evaluate is the same, many of the other skills are very different from nursing. As caregivers, we are not taught those skills and they cannot be learned in law school or through a legal nurse consulting program.
LNC programs tout that you can earn up to $150 per hour by becoming a legal nurse consultant. While that may be true in some incidences, it requires a lot of work to get to that level. You must be savvy with marketing skills and be able to speak comfortably to attorneys to sell your services.
Marketing is really a full time job. And once you get cases, you still need to market or you won’t get any more cases. They don’t teach you marketing in nursing school.
If you think you’re going to land a job at a law firm, that is certainly possible. However, many small firms do not have the benefits that nurses are used to receiving from health care organizations and they certainly will not pay you $150 per hour. It will be more inline with what a nurse makes.
If you go into law or legal nurse consulting, you will be knee-deep in paperwork. You will have to be able to sit and concentrate for long periods of time, reading lengthy medical records to pick out the proverbial “needle in the haystack” or to analyze several cases on a similar subject matter to determine the relevance to the facts in your particular case. If you are committed to learning the marketing skills and enjoy thinking, analyzing and writing, working in the law is great.
I am so grateful that I have been able to successfully blend both of my professions to help the legal community with medical issues in their cases as well as nurses who are in difficult situations before the licensing board.