Expert-witness work is a huge area of opportunity for nurses, said Julie Armstrong, PsyD, MN, BSN, RN, who works in the field. We have a very litigious society and there is a market for nursing experts in all specialties, she said. Cases involving questions about wound care, diabetes management or administrative matters are among those in which nurses might offer their expert clinical opinions.
Given its payoff potential, why isnt expert-witness work more popular with nurses either as a secondary or a primary source of income? Simple: Nurses often dont recognize they have the capacity to do it, Armstrong said. They dont realize that what they have is expertise.
Some nurses may think they wouldnt qualify to be an expert witness because they dont have the highest degree in their field, but education can be secondary to experience, Armstrong said. A nurse who has seen 500 mesothelioma patients knows what to do when you see a meso patient, she said. The key requirement for an expert witness is the ability to confidently answer the question, Would a reasonable nurse under the same circumstances have intervened in the same way?
Gaining the required confidence can be a hurdle for nurses considering pursuing expert-witness opportunities, so Armstrongs latest project is developing an online curriculum to train nurses in civil forensic work what it is, how expert witnesses become involved and how a civil case proceeds.
Armstrong and Los Angeles attorney David Gyepes offer expert-witness training seminars through jointly founded AG Seminars business. Armstrong hopes moving the training online and offering a professional certification upon completion of the curriculum will attract more nurses to the field.
Learn more about Armstrong
To learn more about Armstrong’s career, read Nurse.com/Article/Expert-Witness.