What Does a Nurse Attorney Do?
By earning an education in both nursing and law, a nurse attorney is a professional expert on both legal and health issues. With such a set of unique qualifications, these types of nurses can choose to represent health care professionals in court or work to change health care policies. Nurse attorneys who choose a career in the courtroom work with doctors or nurses that have been wrongly accused of malpractice, as health consultants at law firms and on disputes with insurance companies. They analyze personal injury or insurance claims, and are expert witnesses in medical legal cases. Nurse attorneys who choose a career in health care are involved in advocating certain health care policies, lobbying for nursing associations or educating lawmakers about important issues and concerns within the health care industry. The vast knowledge this type of nurse acquires can equip them to work in other occupations as well, such as writers and editors for professional nursing and legal journals.
How Can I Become a Nurse Attorney?
If you want to become a nurse attorney, be prepared to spend many years in school, as you will have to earn degrees both in nursing and law. To become a registered nurse you must complete a nursing program, earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing, rather than an associate degree. A bachelor’s degree is generally a requirement for law school applicants, so the importance of earning one should not be underestimated. After graduating from a nursing program, you will need to pass a national licensing exam known as the NCLEX-RN in order to begin your career as a registered nurse. Typically, most nurses spend a few years working in the medical field before they decide to return to school to earn a law degree. To apply to law school you will have to take the LSAT, known as the Law School Admissions Test, which assesses logical and verbal skills. Law school generally takes around three years to complete, and after earning a law degree you will have to pass the state bar licensing exam in order to practice.
What Is the Career and Salary Outlook for a Nurse Attorney?
As these types of nurses acquire more education than the typical RN, they are not only rare, but also in demand. With a growing need for attorneys with valid expertise in the area of health, those who choose to pursue a career as a nurse attorney will have a positive job outlook. Nurse attorneys can work in law firms, independent practice, hospitals, insurance companies and education. There are many areas that they can choose to specialize in, such as personal injury, medical malpractice, or criminal or civil law. Nurse attorneys are qualified to hold positions as hospital administrators, lobbyists, legal consultants, litigators and defense attorneys. The salary outlook of a nurse attorney depends on the field they are employed in, as well as the type, size and location of their employer. Those who choose to become this type of attorney can most likely expect to be paid well for their unique qualifications and expertise. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2008, lawyers earned a median annual wage of $110,590.