Finding My Own Way as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant*
by Fredda Thomson, RN, CLNC
Although I have been a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant for less than a year, I have felt that deep, gratifying feeling I can only describe as success. Success can be measured in many ways, and while my business is growing financially, my more important successes have been focused on renewing my excitement for my nursing career and helping others in difficult situations along the way.
While my business is growing financially, my more important successes have been focused on renewing my excitement for my nursing career.
After more than 34 years in clinical nursing I had become very disillusioned with my career, to put it mildly. Patient care and safety had dropped to a new low, while nurses were burdened with increased paperwork, more and sicker patients, fewer staff members, less autonomy in decision-making as well as lower salary and benefits. I had tried several different aspects of nursing, seeking fulfillment in my work once again. But I still dreaded getting up and going into work.
Why stay in nursing? Even a bad situation can become comfortable, especially when you depend on that paycheck every two weeks. The pattern is difficult to break. However, after 34 years, it was time for me to break that pattern. Several personal hardships helped me make that decision.
Personal Hardships Signal Time for Change
Shortly after midnight on New Year’s Eve, my daughter Cinda, eight months pregnant with her second child, became ill with nausea and constant abdominal pain, unlike labor contractions. Her OB service admitted her to the hospital, where she was diagnosed as being dehydrated. She was treated with IV fluids and nausea medication, and discharged on New Year’s Day. A nurse practitioner told her her symptoms were normal. But the pain did not go away, and after a week in agony with no food or sleep, Cinda couldn’t take it any longer.
Her OB physician reluctantly sent her back to the hospital. The nurses who examined her said she needed an emergency C-section. The baby was breech and in trouble. The cord was beginning to separate from the placenta. With an emergency C-section, she delivered a beautiful 6-pound, 6-ounce baby boy.
When I saw Cinda after delivery I was surprised to see that her abdomen was still quite large, as if she were still pregnant. She was told that was normal after the second baby. The severe pain continued, but was controlled with medication, and she was discharged ten days later with a Foley catheter in place. The next day, when I saw my daughter, I truly believed she was dying. She could hardly lift her head off the pillow, and she was vomiting bile and hallucinating. I took her back to the OB doctor, and the minute he saw her, he knew something was gravely wrong. Cinda’s blood pressure had dropped dangerously low, and an ambulance was called to rush her to the ED.
Cinda’s appendix had ruptured – shattered actually. The surgeon had difficulty even finding it as bits and pieces were way out of place. Her body was filled with over 1800cc of pus causing sepsis throughout her system, and the surgeon gave her a 50-50 chance of surviving the next few hours.
Over 3½ weeks Cinda had a total of five surgeries. She remained in the ICU on a ventilator in an induced coma because of the severe pain and ordeal her body was going through. The sepsis had affected every organ and system. Her surgeon was always totally honest with us, but gave us hope. Cinda “woke up” on January 30 and, a few days later, was well enough to be transferred to a regular floor where she remained for ten more days.
During those days and nights in the ICU waiting room I had ample time to think. I knew I needed to make some changes in my life, and I committed to doing so. The hospital where I worked was very supportive in the beginning of Cinda’s illness. However, as time passed they became insistent that I return to work. I had to use my vacation time to be with her in the hospital, and even though I had time left I had to return to work shortly after Cinda was discharged. She could not even take care of herself, much less her infant son and daughter. Her aunt came to live with her for two months, and when I was not working, I was with them.
Once again, I got into a rut and my commitment to change was put on hold. Things were awful at work. We merged with another hospital and went through many changes. Everyone was walking on eggshells, and we were told more than once not to ask questions, just to do as we were told.
My final decision to leave clinical nursing came on Sunday, July 25, when I was assaulted and severely beaten by a patient. This time I heard the message loud and clear. As I lay in the ED that night, once again I had time to think. As I healed in the days that followed, it became clear to me that I did not want to return to clinical nursing. I decided to take early retirement. In my mind, I was finished with nursing. I did not know what I was going to do, but certainly not nursing.
Becoming a CLNC® Consultant Renewed My Career Excitement
While my early retirement was being processed, I happened to pick up a nursing publication and saw several ads for legal nurse consulting. I wondered for a few seconds what that might entail, then thought to myself, “What do you care? You’re done with nursing!” But this time I listened and this time I acted. I looked into four training programs and I chose Vickie’s CLNC Certification Seminar because it met my needs – I wanted the best, quickest, most credible, most cost-effective training.
I am not a risk taker, and I was very frightened about having to learn so much so quickly. The CLNC Certification Seminar changed my life. How I wish I had discovered legal nurse consulting many years ago. Becoming a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant has brought excitement back to my career. The feeling of helping others who may have experienced the same pain I had or, better yet, of preventing others from feeling this pain, is a large part of my success. Vickie’s CLNC Certification has given me the ability to form my own company and make decisions based on my own needs, with a feeling of worth I have not experienced in any other nursing job.
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