A Life-Altering Twist of Fate Inspired My New Passion as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant*
by Jane A. Hurst, RN, CLNC
I consider myself Vickie Milazzo Institute’s “poster child.” My life-altering journey to becoming a successful CLNC® consultant has had its share of ups and downs, and I owe the upswings to Vickie.
I was working as an instructor in an LPN program. I loved my work teaching students about body mechanics. Then I injured myself lifting my dog into the car. I ended up having surgery to repair a herniated disc. A few days postop I began experiencing a new, much more severe pain, yet I couldn’t convince the surgeon something wasn’t right. He told me I was expecting too much of myself. By the time I was finally admitted to the hospital for additional treatment, complex spinal infections had virtually destroyed two vertebrae, and I also had an epidural abscess.
We all experience twists of fate in some form. Fortunately, when my fate took a turn, Vickie was there to guide me through. Her words of encouragement and her enthusiasm triggered my drive to pursue my new passion.
I knew in my heart I was a victim of malpractice. My career in active clinical nursing was over. I decided to pursue legal action. The attorneys I chose were very good to work with, but they didn’t fully understand my clinical picture. They even told me they weren’t sure my case would be successful. I felt strongly that because the surgeon wouldn’t listen to me, I was paying the price for his poor judgment.
Fortunately, I remembered the Institute’s advertisement in a nursing magazine. I decided that if I could learn about the role of a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant, I could prove my own case. So in 1992, I sent off for the CLNC Certification Program. I’ll never forget the day that box arrived. I thought I might have bitten off more than I could chew, but I buckled down and studied the whole program. It gave me the confidence to see that I already had all the skills necessary to be a CLNC consultant – I just needed Vickie to show me the way and redefine that knowledge.
My first case was my own. The lawsuit proceeded successfully, largely because I was able to find research to support my case. I became very involved in the entire process, going to every deposition and being deposed myself. The trial lasted two weeks, and the jury decided in my favor and awarded a large judgment.
I found that I liked what I was doing and set up my home office. Since my physical activity is limited, with my office at home I can lie down when I need to and work when I want to. I consult for the law firm that represented me, and I even got cases from one of the opposing attorneys who deposed me in the suit.
I asked the attorney I’d worked with for so long to write a letter of recommendation for me. Then I sent out my promotional packets. The response was great, and I now have new clients.
Back when I was so sick, I wondered what I would do. Nursing was important to me. Thank goodness I am able to use my nursing background in my CLNC work. I now realize this is exactly what I was meant to do.
We all experience twists of fate in some form. Fortunately, when my fate took a turn, Vickie was there to guide me through. Her words of encouragement and her enthusiasm triggered my drive to pursue my new passion. I think of Vickie as the mighty oak tree, and we are all her little seedlings (or maybe little nuts!).
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