If you’re a nurse looking to change careers, you should consider becoming a paralegal. Although you may believe that the two professions and industries are world’s apart, they share some striking similarities. Additionally, personal injury, medical malpractice, insurance defense, and lawyers who represent people hurt by defective goods are often in need of someone with medical experience. In this article, you’re going to learn about why you should consider becoming a paralegal if you’ve decided that the medical field just isn’t for you.
Medical Records Summary
As a nurse paralegal, one of your chief responsibilities will be to summarize and explain medical records to your supervising attorney. This is important since there’s a claim for personal injury or medical care in many cases. Your job would be to help determine if the right care was provided. You or another member of the legal team would send out a records request (generally an authorization form signed by the person in question). Sometimes, law firms send out a document known as a subpoena duces tecum. This is a special subpoena sent out as a legal demand to get copies of certain records.
Knowledge of Medical Terms and Medications
If you were an RN or LPN, then you also likely know quite a bit about various medications. As a nurse paralegal, you would explain medical terms and medications to the legal team so that they are able to fully understand the scope of the case they are involved in. Of course, the law firm may still very well hire an expert witness of some kind regarding medical conditions and or medications, but having someone on the team who can explain those items first can make the entire process easier.
An Eye for Detail
As a nurse, you had to be detail oriented. You had to document your work. You may have reviewed the reports of other medical professionals so that you knew what was going on with the patient and what you needed to do. Nurse paralegals need a good eye for detail. In some cases, this eye for detail can determine whether the client will win or lose the case
Good Communication Skills
As a nurse paralegal, you’ll spend a lot of time reading and summarizing documents. You might also receive reports from an independent medical examiner. An independent medical examiner is someone who is an uninterested medical professional that is hired to provide a medical examination of the client involved in the case. You’ll also spend a lot of time talking to clients, doctors, hospital representatives, and attorneys. You’ll use your good communication skills to build and maintain positive relationships throughout the course of the case. You’ll also document conversations that you have with others. You may also be required to write letters requesting records.
Nurse Paralegals Often Make More Money
Nurse paralegals are often paid a higher salary than traditional paralegals. This is because of their medical training. According to Indeed.com, nurse paralegals make an average salary of $68,000. Yet, in Washington DC, they make more than $100,000. Keep in mind that the salary in your area may be different. It may also depend on education and experience. Many law firms also pay a yearly bonus.
If you’re looking for a way to continue to use your nursing education but outside of the medical industry, consider taking the necessary courses to become a paralegal. You’ll be glad that you did!