You might have heard of nurse attorneys, but do you know what they do? Is it something you might consider as a career?
Nurse attorneys usually work in an several roles, using their dual degrees in nursing and in law to match their interests with a need. Holding dual nursing and law degrees also means a nurse attorney is in a unique position. They can use their nursing degree or law degree exclusively and have no overlap, or they can use both together.
Nurse attorneys can help the public at large by advancing health care policy in both government or private sectors. They can also use their legal expertise to work in courtroom settings either as a lawyer or as an expert. When health care issues are prominent, they use their professional expertise to inform about everything from health disparities to legal liability issues. And they can work as experts with insurance companies especially as health insurance continues to undergo a massive shift in the United States.
In a strictly health care role, nurse attorneys can advocate for and be in a position to bring change in a health care setting or in an administration role. They can also bring their knowledge into a medical editor position on journals or in other medical publications.
How can they do that? Using both degrees helps nurse attorneys spread knowledge about issues that affect health care workers and patients and bring about the change in the most effective arenas to make make change happen. They can work with or for hospitals and health care facilities, lobbying organizations, nursing associations, and as advocates when health care issues are especially at stake. Nurse attorneys are able to speak out on insurance issues, health law practices, and hospital policy because they have the academic and hands-on experience in both sectors. They can also provide consulting advice to health care professionals who need specific legal advice.
If you’re considering a nurse attorney path, concentrate on getting your BSN and some nursing experience before applying to law school. (Some, of course, do the reverse and attend law school first, then get their nursing degree.) Getting the nursing experience helps you use your degree to the fullest and narrows down your professional and personal focus so you’ll be able to shape how and where you apply to law schools. Would you like to work most on legal issues that impact nurses and nurse practitioners? Does the idea of helping a nurse navigate all the legal steps to start a solo practice interest you? Or would you like to work on health care policy the most?
The American Association of Nurse Attorneys has lots of information about this career and how to use it in the way that will meet your own goals.
The satisfaction from overlapping these two degrees holds big appeal for nurses and lawyers who want to use their knowledge to bring about the most impact. If this interests you, a career as a nurse attorney might be a great option.