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Is it feasible to work as both a nurse and a lawyer? I am an RN but want to be a lawyer too.

Wednesday July 16, 2014
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Dear Nancy,

I am an RN, but I want to be a lawyer too. I have thought about law school since before nursing school. I don't plan on giving up my nursing career, I would want to work as both. Is that feasible in your opinion? I'm at a crossroads now to either become a nurse practitioner or go to law school. I just started researching law school and it's overwhelming. I want to be a lawyer because I like to debate and present my arguments in such a way that the opposing party gives up or cannot argue with me. Many people who know me think I would make a good lawyer. I want to help people inside the courtroom as I have witnessed many innocent people being harmed by the judicial system and not being treated fairly.


Adelle



Dear Nancy replies:

Dear Adelle,

It sounds as though you have many skills that would be helpful if you decide to go to law school and become a nurse lawyer. Your interest in helping people with their legal cases so they are treated fairly is a wonderful goal.

Having said that, the skills you describe in your question also would be helpful to you should you decide to further your nursing education and become a NP. Practicing much more independently, being able to advocate for your patients with this additional education, plus providing them with quality care are positive aspects of advanced nursing practice.

You need to consider if going to law school will allow you to practice the type of law you want to practice as a nurse attorney. Consider the time, effort and expense of law school; job opportunities in your community for a nurse lawyer and from where your client base will originate.

Contrast those, and other considerations, with a decision to become a nurse practitioner. There are many options available for funding of advanced NP education due to the Affordable Care Act. In addition, there is no question that NPs are needed and that key healthcare positions will be available to them, including primary care options.

It is difficult to have to choose between two interesting and challenging career paths. Talk to nurses who have taken these paths and get their take on how they made their decision to do one or the other, how their respective practices are going and if they have any regrets.

The choice to do one or the other, or even both, is yours and yours alone. It is a blessing to have options, and you certainly have two exciting and challenging ones to evaluate.

Cordially,
Nancy




Nancy J. Brent, RN, MS, JD, is an attorney in private practice in Wilmette, Ill. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal or any other advice. The reader is encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney or other professional when an opinion is needed.