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Penn College to Offer Certificate In Nurse/Health Care Paralegal Studies

A unique new certificate program that addresses the intertwining needs of the health-care, insurance and legal fields will be offered this fall at Pennsylvania College of Technology.

The Nurse/Health Care Paralegal Studies certificate program offered by the School of Business and Computer Technologies will prepare students for jobs with law firms, insurance companies, risk-management departments and government agencies, said Kevin R. Derr, director of legal assistant/paralegal studies at Penn College.

“The legal/health care specialty has been identified as one of the ‘hot’ new fields of law,” Derr said. “This program provides an excellent opportunity for nurses and other health care professionals to develop specialized expertise in the legal field. The combination of medical and legal knowledge is very valuable in either profession. We are excited about the experience these students will bring to our paralegal classes.”

To enroll, students must already have earned an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree in nursing or another health-sciences field, such as physician assistant, occupational therapy or radiography. Those working toward a degree in Applied Health Studies also are eligible.

Students earning the certificate will be well-suited for work in any legal specialty requiring medical expertise, such as medical malpractice, personal-injury litigation, insurance, risk management, elder law, workers’ compensation and disability law. Some nurse/health care paralegals work independently, offering their services as consultants and expert witnesses.

Presently, there are no similar programs known to be offered in Pennsylvania, and the certificate program at Penn College is the first known nurse/paralegal program in the state to receive approval from the American Bar Association.

The certificate program will provide an introduction to the legal system and the role of the paralegal, emphasizing legal research, writing and ethics. All courses will be taught by licensed attorneys/judges and will be available during evening hours. Students will complete 21-22 credits (15 required and 6-7 electives) in paralegal studies to earn the certificate.

Students will learn how to conduct effective research and to prepare legal correspondence, documents and exhibits. They will also develop skills in civil-case management, discovery and trial preparation, including analyzing and summarizing medical documents and deposition transcripts for use in legal matters.

The program also will help students to develop the skills needed to testify in legal proceedings, negotiate on behalf of clients and interview clients and witnesses. First-year enrollment is projected at 10 to 15 students.

Paralegals must operate under the supervision of a licensed attorney and are prohibited from practicing law.

For more information about the Nurse/Health Care Paralegal Studies certificate program at Penn College, call the Admissions Office at (570) 326-4761 or 1-800-367-9222; or the School of Business and Computer Technologies at (570) 327-4517.

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