What is a Nurse Paralegal?
A Nurse paralegal is an individual who is experienced in both the medical field and law. The career options for nurse paralegals are plentiful because of their knowledge in both domains. The additional skills needed also mean a higher earning potential.
People typically start off as either nurses or paralegals and receive additional training at a later date to be certified as the other. Many people go to paralegal school or to a nursing college with the aim of either working in the health or legal field but discover that their career opportunities can be greatly enhanced if they decide to receive training in both fields.
It is possible to receive separate training and become both a nurse and a paralegal but you will not be able to be hired as a nurse paralegal because a certification process is needed for nurse paralegals. You will need to to receive certification through the American Legal Nurse Consultant Certification Board (ALNCCB).
There is an exam for licensure provided by the ALNCCB, but you must have a nursing license and at least 2000 hours of legal nurse consulting under your belt. Certification is not necessary to be a nurse paralegal, but it increases your chances of being hired by an employer. A serious applicant should take the exam as soon as they are able to do so.
Another option is joining the American Federation of Paralegal Associations of the National Association for Legal Assistants. They have their own certification process. It is possible to be a member of multiple associations and it may be additionally helpful to be receiving assistance from multiple sources.
In the Workplace
Nurse paralegals work in a variety of locations. This may include insurance companies, doctors offices, hospitals, law offices, and lawyers. You can work for anyone who needs someone with both legal and medical expertise, because the likelihood that someone has an M.D. and a law degree is extremely rare. Nurse paralegals are able to address unique cases that require the knowledge of both fields.
If you work for a lawyer you might be qualified to provide information to attorneys on cases that have a medical component. You could be asked to interview clients with medical issue and possibly provide expert testimony on the state of their health.
Doctors and hospitals might need some assistance from nurse paralegal as well. A nurse paralegal is NOT allowed to give legal advice but can still have important roles at medical institutions.
Nurse Paralegal Salary
Nurse paralegals have the opportunity to make a good wage, but it really depends on the individual’s experience with law. Less training as a paralegal can mean that you will make less money. There may also be situations in which you are only using your medical knowledge or only using your knowledge as a paralegal. Focus on getting as much working experience and education from a College of Law because you can increase your earning potential over the course of your career.
In addition to your full-time employment you can do various other things in order to supplement your income. As an independent consultant for legal cases you can earn a good hourly wage. You could also earn additional income as an expert witness. This option is especially appealing to those who wish to partially retire. Lawyers on both sides are often in need of an expert who can testify to medical matters. Doctors are too busy for this so a nurse paralegal can easily take advantage of this need.
Anyone looking into getting into the medical field may want to consider the additional training as a paralegal. Prepare yourself to work in either a hospital or law office. Set yourself ahead of the competition by being an expert in two fields and give your career a huge boost.
*In no way does Fremont College promise or guarantee employment or level of income/wages. Paralegals may not provide legal services directly to the public, except as permitted by law.