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Can I Get a Witness?

Memphis attorney trains nurses to be expert witnesses.

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Some might say Elizabeth Rudolph is a jack of all trades. Or at least three trades. The Memphis business owner is also an attorney and a nurse.

In 2006, Rudolph combined her knowledge of nursing and law to open the Jurex Center for Legal Nurse Consulting, which specializes in training nurses as expert witnesses in legal proceedings.

Historically, physicians have been called upon to act as expert witnesses in medical malpractice or personal injury cases, but Rudolph said the market opened to nurses about eight years ago.

"Nurses started getting into this market when attorneys realized it was more economical for nurses to review a bulk number of cases," Rudolph said. "There are times when attorneys need a physician or a surgeon, but on a routine day-in, day-out basis, the task can be accomplished very easily with a nurse."

Through Jurex, Rudolph teaches nurses how to review and testify in cases. Nurses may either sign up for a two-day, in-person training course (the most recent of which was offered in Memphis this past October) or they can opt to take the course by video, audio, or online. The next in-person course will be held in Nashville April 13th and14th.

"I teach this course because I want to give something back to nursing. Nursing and law have been very good to me," Rudolph said. "Yes, this course could be longer, and yes, it could be more expensive. But I don't see a need for that."

Once they've completed the course, nurses are listed in the Jurex Expert Directory, which attorneys in medical malpractice or personal injury cases consult when seeking experts for cases that are tried all over the country.

"Nurses get paid handsomely for this. It's usually $150 an hour when they're reviewing medical records. If they testify, they're looking at earning $200 an hour," Rudolph said. "That's substantially more than nurses make on an hourly basis."

Any Registered Nurse (RN) or Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) qualifies for the training course.

"Nurses need to know certain specific legal terms, and that's part of the primer in the course. It's distilled, so it's not hard to grasp," Rudolph said. "I go through precisely what they need to know."

Rudolph's interest in nursing was sparked when she worked in a nursing home years ago. That inspired her to attend nursing school, and she earned her master's degree in that field. Rudolph worked as a nursing assistant and later as a law clerk while she attended law school at Vanderbilt.

She's served on the faculty of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center's College of Nursing in Memphis, and she taught at Vanderbilt. An attorney for 23 years, Rudolph worked at the Johnnie Cochran Law Firm before founding Jurex in 2006.

For information on how to register for a Jurex course, go to jurexnurse.com.

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