Setting Yourself Apart: Becoming a Nurse Consultant
Despite nursing shortages continuing to have a tremendous impact on health systems and their ability to fill employment gaps and retain qualified nurses, little has been done to ease their burden. In fact, nurses continue to work long hours with little sleep in arduous environments, trying to meet unrealistic expectations simply because that is the way it has always been.
But what if we told you there was another way?
What is a Nurse Consultant? Nurse consultants are registered nurses and nurse practitioners who are subject matter experts in various fields of nursing, including clinical, operations, and legal. “But I am not a subject matter expert.” Are you sure? Do not be so quick to self-reject. Imposture syndrome has never benefited anyone.
Are you a legally registered nurse or nurse practitioner?
Have you obtained a Bachelor of Science in Nursing?
Do you have over five years of experience?
If you answered yes, you are well on your way. Of course, certain specializations have different requirements.
Clinical Nurse Consultants
A clinical nurse consultant is a nurse who specializes in ensuring that healthcare facilities are providing the best quality of care based on evidence-based practice. They understand the conceptual, theoretical, and applied underpinnings and work to improve an organization's processes.
The role of a clinical nurse consultant includes teaching, research, and clinical practice, and they often have subspecialties, including:
Clinical nurse consultants should not be mistaken for clinical nurse specialists who, in many states, must obtain a graduate degree and a certification specific to their clinical population.
Operations Nurse Consultants
An operations nurse consultant provides analytical oversight and is primarily responsible for ensuring that an organization's internal processes align with its goals and objectives.
Duties may include:
Analyzing and increasing economic performance
Identifying and reducing fiduciary risk
Evaluating and streamlining workflow to improve operational efficiency
Monitoring and managing quality assurance processes
Legal Nurse Consultants A legal nurse consultant specializes in the legal aspects of nursing and is responsible for evaluating care using the nursing process to identify areas of negligence and malpractice.
They often consult in a variety of settings, including healthcare facilities, government agencies, nonprofit advocacy groups, research labs, law firms, and insurance companies.
Duties may include:
Examining medical records
Translating medical terminology
Educating professionals outside the medical community
Providing expert testimony
Becoming a Nurse Consultant
Obtain a nursing degree
Pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX RN) and become licensed to practice in your state of choice
Gain five years of experience
Optional: If you are pursuing the path of a Legal Nurse Consultant, it’s recommended that you obtain a Legal Nurse Consultant Certificate (LNCC) from the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants (AALNC). However, in order to be eligible for the examination, you must first acquire 2,000 hours of legal medical consulting experience.
Standing Out as a Nurse Consultant While nurse consultants are not required to pursue advanced education or obtain additional certification, they often do to establish authority in their respective fields.
Clinical nurse consultants often pursue an advanced degree, such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).
Operations nurse consultants often pursue a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or an MSN in administration, management, or leadership.
Legal nurse consultants often pursue an LNCC, complete a paralegal program, or have experience working as a nurse in a legal setting.
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