A hospital paralegal is a paralegal who has healthcare law education and training, and works in a hospital setting. Their role is to keep up-to-date with healthcare laws, have the ability to interpret all laws as they pertain to the hospital’s operation, and make sure that hospital staff is aware of their legal duties and obligations. The hospital paralegal also creates legal documents as needed, draws up general guidance for medical staff in order to ensure compliance with laws like HIPAA, and reviews legal actions taken against the hospital by patients and other aggrieved parties. Hospital paralegal jobs are usually performed under the supervision of an attorney as the paralegal is not allowed to work independently.
Who Can Become a Hospital Paralegal?
Anyone who has earned their paralegal certificate or degree can become a hospital paralegal, but healthcare law education and/or experience is usually a requirement for employment. An individual who is interested in becoming a hospital paralegal should look into a healthcare paralegal study program that results in the earning of an associate’s in arts or science degree. A healthcare paralegal program of study teaches the core knowledge that a paralegal is required to have for employment in the legal field, but also includes classes that teach healthcare law topics.
Healthcare professionals who have worked in the medical field for a period of time and want to move into the legal field are well-positioned to work as hospital paralegals. The knowledge and experience gained from working as a medical professional will aid the work done as a hospital paralegal. That is, a hospital paralegal with healthcare experience can make informed and qualified decisions and create plans that aren’t disruptive to the operation of a hospital and its staff. The medical paralegal is already familiar with how medical facilities operate and how medical professionals do their jobs which can make the medical paralegal a highly effective member of the legal team.
What Does a Hospital Paralegal Do?
Paralegal jobs in hospitals are similar to paralegal jobs in law firms. Some hospital paralegal jobs are generalist in nature while others have a specific focus. A generalist hospital paralegal may find themselves engaged in duties that include drawing up contracts, negotiating contracts, researching healthcare laws and any other laws that may affect the hospital, alerting the appropriate administrative staff to changes in law, and more. The hospital paralegal also engages with insurance companies to facilitate a contractual relationship between both parties.
A hospital paralegal is also required to have proficiency in computer software that’s crucial to getting their work accomplished. That includes using word processors, spreadsheets, legal software, and the ability to search law databases for information that’s pertinent to the work. The hospital paralegal also has to work with medical professionals and healthcare administrators and have the capability to be firm, concise, able to communicate clearly and make sure laws and rules are being observed.
As previously mentioned, a hospital paralegal has to work under the supervision of an attorney. In a hospital setting, this means providing necessary support to hospital attorneys as they prepare for various legal duties. However, a hospital paralegal can do a lot of the work that’s performed by an attorney and perform their jobs somewhat independently. Work done by a paralegal does require the review of an attorney, but the paralegal can also handle duties that are quasi-legal in nature without the need for attorney review.
How Much Can a Hospital Paralegal Make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average paralegal salary is $51,740 per year. The salary data reflects the average salary for all paralegal roles in the United States and does not directly address the average hospital paralegal salary. However, due to the fact that the hospital paralegal role is a specialized field that requires a specific type of education and sometimes experiences for employment. The average salary for a hospital paralegal may be higher than the average due to these requirements.
Employment for paralegals is expected to grow faster than the average from 2019 to 2029 due to the recognition that paralegals do much of the same work as attorneys do, but for less money. That’s not to say that paralegals work cheaply so much as it shows the value of the paralegal. Healthcare employment is expected to grow at a similar rate due to large, aging populations that require more healthcare. An increase in healthcare providers and facilities means an increased demand for legal support in the form of hospital paralegals. The overall employment and salary outlook for hospital paralegals is good. Someone who is interested in working in this field can benefit from getting their career started now and be well-positioned when the anticipated demand strikes.