LNCtips.com: In-House Desirable Traits
In-house Legal Nurse Consultants require certain skills, qualifications, and traits to be successful in the role including:
Registered Nurse. This seems obvious since the definition of a Legal Nurse Consultant includes being an RN. However, there are LPNs who market themselves as LNCs.
Five or more years of nursing experience in a hospital, nursing home, physician office or home health care setting.
Ability to write in a clear, concise, grammatically correct manner. In-house candidates may be asked to submit a narrative summary and analysis as a screening tool If so, make sure that your report has no typos, that your analysis of the case is sound, and the report is grammatically correct.
Experience in a law firm or completion of an LNC course may be required. At one time, on-the- job training was the norm. That no longer seems to be the case.
Full-time employment may be required. Some new LNCs want to hedge their bets by working part-time as an LNC, to see if they like the field, while they continue to work at their nursing jobs. If they don't like LNC work, they leave to go back to their RN jobs. They lose nothing by doing this. The firm loses time and money training them and their replacements. For that reason, many firms would prefer to hire LNCs full time; if the LNCs want to maintain their clinical competency, they can do so on a part time basis.
Computer literacy LNCs are expected to have not just the ability to check their internet email account or use a touch screen computer such as those in a hospital. LNCs are expected to use certain software and perform basic internet research as well. Some firms require LNCs to use CaseMap, Word (or WordPerfect), PowerPoint, Outlook (or GroupWise/WordPerfect Email), Adobe Acrobat Professional or Standard (as opposed to Reader) and billing software. Some training may be provided (particularly for billing software and CaseMap) but a candidate who needs little training is more desirable than one who needs a lot.
Typing Ability. While it's true that LNCs dictate their reports in some firms, lack of basic typing skills can be a real hindrance in finding an in-house position. LNCs usually aren't expected to type as fast as an administrative assistant but must type faster than at a hunt-and-peck level.
None of this is meant to discourage LNCs from seeking a position in a law firm. But it is meant to show LNCs that they need skills above and beyond those of an RN. And if those skills arent top notch now, they will need to be updated before seeking employment at a law firm.
Increase Your Hirability
If the traits(above) seem overwhelming, rest assured that there are things that can be done to increase your chances of being hired as a Legal Nurse Consultant in a law firm.
If you havent taken an LNC course, do so.
Recognize that if you have ANY experience reviewing charts for quality assurance, quality improvement or peer review purposes, the experience can help you as an LNC. Likewise, management, risk management and case management usually include review and evaluation of care. Write a resume that emphasizes your ability to analyze cases and stresses your organizational and research abilities, attention to detail and motivation. See the section on resumes for ideas to highlight this kind of experience.
If you haven't had any experience reviewing charts, volunteer to serve on a committee that does that type of review at your place of employment.
If there isn't an option to review charts at your place of employment, offer to volunteer your services at your local Legal Aid society. While it probably won't have medical malpractice cases, its attorneys could always use help interpreting medical records in other types of cases.
If you can't type and don't want to or can't learn how, try to find a position in which the LNCs dictate rather than type their reports. Recognize that you may be severely limiting your pool of firms.
If you can type but need to brush up on your typing skills, take a keyboarding course or download typing software for free. If you aren't familiar with a computer, there are courses at local colleges and libraries.
Before you apply to a law firm, develop a portfolio of writing samples that show the type of work that you can do. Make sure that the reports are grammatically correct and free of typos. See the section on LNC Skills.
Seek out a mentorship or externship. Dont expect to be paid while you are in a mentorship or externship relationship. In fact, YOU may need to pay for this experience.
Get involved in your local AALNC chapter or one of the virtual chapters. Some of your colleagues are in positions that influence the hiring decisions for their firms. So don't just attend meetings. Actively network. Join a committee or volunteer to do a special project. Then show your colleagues that you can do a great job within the time frame allotted for the project.