How to Plan Your Career in Nursing with a Law Degree

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Registered nurses are responsible for a wide variety of duties in hospitals, private practices and other medical settings. Professionals who want to stand out in the nursing field and distinguish their efforts can specialize their knowledge around topics they and their colleagues will have to deal with regularly. These potential areas of expertise include the laws and regulations pertaining to the health care sector.

An advanced practice registered nurse works on a laptop

Exerting influence as an advanced practice nurse

Registered nurses (RNs) hoping to become more influential in their workplaces and make a positive impact on care can seek roles as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). Nurse Journal indicated that achieving APRN status is one way to overcome the traditional limitations that have been placed on nurses’ authority and leadership influence relative to physicians. APRNs can be more autonomous in their decision-making than other RNs.

In addition to adding a satisfying degree of self-guidance, taking on an advanced nursing position can be a strong move for pay and career stability. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that advanced and specialized nursing roles including nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife and nurse practitioner are rapidly growing in demand, with 26% expansion predicted between 2018 and 2028, compared to 5% growth for all positions.

Becoming an APRN with a specialty means earning a master’s nursing degree in that area, on top of the certification and education required to enter the RN workforce. Financial rewards may come with this progression in role: The median salary for a nursing specialist is $113,930 according to the BLS.

Improving nursing with a law degree

There are many ways to apply such specialized knowledge to the everyday roles and responsibilities of nursing, and a law degree can help. When considering online legal programs to bolster their experience and enhance their resumes, RNs and APRNs may get the best results from offerings such as the Online Master of Arts in Health Law and Policy from the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University.

Law programs that deal directly with health care matters such as the impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the interactions between insurance companies and care providers can equip nurses with potentially valuable knowledge and experience. Supervisors can turn to APRNs with a legal education to drive decisions and policy.

In addition to timely concerns such as ACA updates, a legal education with a health focus can prepare RNs and APRNs to deal with persistently relevant concepts such as applying ethics to difficult treatment decisions and performing medical research. Employees well-versed in such topics can become go-to leaders when difficult decisions have to be made.

Studying for a legal degree online

An online master’s degree may represent an ideal educational path for full-time nurses, as they can take asynchronous classes on their own unique schedules, interacting online with expert faculty and fellow students. Nurses may complete the 11 courses in as few as 24 months, bolstering their knowledge and using the newfound information to take a more active role in answering essential care-related questions.

New applicants can enter the program without any previous legal education. Introductory courses on the legal system and its interactions with medicine are included in the curriculum. In today’s health care workplaces, nurses are stepping into ever-greater decision-making roles. They can become better equipped to thrive with these new positions and responsibilities when they bring knowledge of relevant legal concepts and frameworks.

Learn more about the Online Master of Arts in Health Law and Policy program by visiting the program page.

Recommended Readings:
6 careers that can benefit from a health law and policy degree
Comparing HIPAA’s Privacy and Security Rules

Nurse Journal – Advanced Practice Nursing Fact Sheet
Bureau of Labor Statistics – Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners