Legal Nurse Consultants: Board Certification vs. Certificate of Completion

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When a legal team seeks the assistance of a legal nurse consultant, it is essential to understand the qualifications and certifications involved. Nurses possess extensive medical knowledge and clinical experience which can help a legal team working on health law issues gain a significant advantage over their competitors. In addition, nurses have considerable experience with effective oral and written communication. Legal clients can depend on the nurses’ strengths as an educator to inform the team about medical diagnoses, procedures, and standards of care, as well as testify in cases as an expert or fact witness. But what do all the letters at the end of the legal nurse consultant’s name mean?

All legal nurse consultants are Registered Nurses (RN). Some RN’s have an associate degree (ADN); however, the trend for hiring clinical nurses in the US is moving toward a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) or higher. Any nurse with clinical experience and excellent oral and written communication can consult for a legal team, manage risk, or do medical research. Education and experience with legal terms and processes certainly help, however, legal teams are explicitly interested in a nurses’ opinion from a health care professional’s point of view, not their legal expertise.

There are many ways a nurse gains experience in legal nurse consulting. In some cases, an experienced legal nurse consultant mentors a nurse to create detailed work products to support a legal team. Some nurses take a course to get started, through an online educational program, college, or university. Most of the well-known courses provide continuing education credits accredited by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Some nurses are asked to consult on a legal case and get “on the job training” by an attorney who knows exactly how they want a work product. Almost any beginner level training for legal nurse consulting results in a “certificate of completion.” This certificate is bestowed upon the nurse after the training to guarantee the nurse completed a course successfully. Some legal nurse consultants will advertise this on their resume as being, “certified.”

There is an accredited board nursing certification available through the non-profit legal nurse consulting professional organization, American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants (AALNC). A legal nurse consultant lists a board certification as a credential after their name: Legal Nurse Consultant Certified (LNCC©). LNCC is a nursing specialty board certification accredited by the Accreditation Board for Specialty Nursing Certification (ABSNC, formerly ABNS), similar to other well-known nursing board certifications such as FNP, CCRN, CEN, and CRNA. An LNCC certification is not an entry-level credential. It is the “gold standard for demonstrating knowledge and experience in specialty practice.”[1] For a legal nurse consultant to be eligible to sit for the LNCC board examination, candidates must have current RN licensure; a minimum of five years of experience practicing as a registered nurse; and evidence of 2000 hours of legal nurse consulting experience within the past five years.[2]

A legal team searching for a legal nurse consultant can decipher all of the “letters” at the end of a nurse’s name by using this straightforward primer. ALN Consulting  takes pride in its team of many experienced and excellent legal nurse consultants, and 68% of our nurses are board certified LNCC’s, with more than 127 collective years of medical and legal nurse consulting experience. ALN Consulting provides every client with a team of nurse consultants ready to evaluate the case and provide the leverage your team needs to succeed in any health law endeavor. Contact us today.