Nurse Attorney: Salary, Career & Job Outlook
Read to learn the facts about pursuing a career as a nurse attorney. Get the necessary information regarding salary expectations, career outlook, and education requirements.
Nurse Attorney Overview
Nurse attorneys are registered nurses who have completed the steps to become licensed attorneys in their jurisdiction. Their unique background in both professions allows them to play a variety of roles in the intersection of healthcare and the law (from lobbyists to litigators on either side of medical malpractice suits). The table below is a general overview of the salary, education, and licensing requirements for this profession.
|Education Required||Associate's (ADN) or bachelor's (BSN) degree in nursing and Juris Doctor (JD) degree|
|Licenses Required||National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN); bar exam in state of practice for attorney licensing|
|Key Skills||Verbal and written communication; analytical skills|
|Career Outlook (2018-2028)||6% (for all lawyers)*|
|Median Salary (2018)||$120,910 (for all lawyers)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
What Are The Education Requirements?
As practicing nurses and licensed attorneys, nurse attorneys must hold either an associate's or bachelor's degree in nursing and a juris doctor (JD) advanced degree. Because most law schools require that all applicants hold a bachelor's degree, a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) is preferred (otherwise you might need to pursue a separate bachelor's degree). Though some law schools have specializations in healthcare law, all at least have courses related to healthcare topics.
What Kind of Employers Hire Nurse Attorneys?
Nurse attorneys normally work for law firms, government agencies, healthcare organizations, academia or private businesses. In academia, nurse attorneys are professors and researchers in healthcare law-related topics. As members of law firms, nurse attorneys take on healthcare cases such as medical malpractice, personal injury and insurance. Government agencies generally hire nurse attorneys to handle licensing of health facilities, enforce healthcare regulations, or advise on healthcare policy. Some private businesses also hire nurse attorneys, relying on them for in-house legal advice. Finally, healthcare organizations work with nurse attorneys for a variety of tasks, from risk management to claims and regulatory compliance.
What Is The Process of Becoming a Nurse Attorney?
As a career path that combines two complex processes of training, education and licensing, the road to becoming a nurse attorney takes several years and involves multiple steps. The process begins with the successful completion of either an Associate's (ADN) or Bachelor's (BSN) degree in nursing. Once graduated, you will have to study for and pass the The National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX) in your state (a required step to becoming a registered nurse). After completing your registration, it is recommended that you invest one or more years as a practicing nurse in order to gain a strong background in clinical settings, as this is an important aspect of the specialized knowledge of nurse attorneys. Once you are ready to continue your journey, you will have to take the LSAT test, apply to law school, and graduate with a Juris Doctor (JD) degree. The last step involves becoming licensed in the state you wish to practice in by pass its corresponding bar examination.
What Are The Responsibilities of a Nurse Attorney?
The responsibilities of nurse attorneys vary depending on the industry, career level, and employer type. In general, nurse attorneys are tasked with analyzing medical records in the context of legal processes (such as insurance claims or lawsuits), educating other non-legal or non-medical professionals on complex issues regarding either discipline, and writing reports or research journals related to healthcare law topics. Nurse attorneys may also be asked to testify in cases as expert witnesses.
What Should I Expect to Make and What Is the Career Outlook?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics includes nurse attorneys under the general category for all lawyers. In 2018, they estimated a median annual salary of $120,910 for this category. The BLS expects a growth in job opportunities of 6% between 2018 and 2028.