Get on the Fast Track to Success with Vickie’s Programs*
by Jean A. Hoepfel, RN, PhD, CLNC
I may hold the record for attending the most Vickie Milazzo programs. I went to my first seminar in 1993 after receiving a brochure in the mail. I wanted to get into legal nurse consulting, but I accepted a job in East Texas and was too busy. I attended my next conference in 1994, but was in the middle of my doctoral dissertation, so I again put CLNC® work on hold. I went to the NACLNC® Conference in 1995, but I still wasn’t ready. Finally, after the 1997 NACLNC Conference, I made the jump into the world of legal nurse consulting.
I could not have considered entering this field without attending Vickie Milazzo Institute’s CLNC® Certification Program and purchasing all the Institute’s educational materials.
Start with a Bang
I started full time by devoting 40+ hours a week to developing my CLNC business. I had only six months of “staying power” (savings to live on). I wanted everything in place before I opened my doors to all those lawyers. I didn’t do any marketing since I was too busy putting my business plan together and gathering my work materials.
My first case came from a neighbor, a lawyer inexperienced in personal injury work. Once I had confidence that I could do the work and could say I was an “experienced” CLNC consultant, I started attending legal conferences where I could schmooze with attorneys to market my services and myself. This worked quite well and is my main marketing strategy today.
Develop a Satisfying Specialty
After a few PI and medical malpractice cases, I decided to pursue Fen-Phen litigation cases since I had 20+ years’ experience, in cardiovascular and preventive medicine, as well as a doctorate in epidemiology. I read everything I could find about diet drugs and their alleged health consequences and developed a large database of scientific articles. I called my lawyer and judge friends and asked for recommendations, attended more legal conferences and finally got a call from a law firm in Houston. They were looking for an epidemiologist to help with causation and scientific evidence issues. For the past 1½ years I have consulted with this law firm and others about diet drug litigation and other products liability issues.
My company specializes in assessing causation between exposure to potentially harmful substances and poor health outcomes. We analyze the scientific literature for methodological problems or inaccurate conclusions. We also locate and prepare testifying experts on these issues.
Initially I had a home office. I started with the dining room, engulfed the guest bedroom and finally took over the master bedroom. That worked okay since I was the only full-time employee, although I had two part-time employees. I liked working in my running clothes without makeup. I loved sending out emails when I got up at 4:00am, just to show the attorneys what a hard worker I was (but I never sent any out after 9:00pm when I was sound asleep!).
When I started adding full-time staff, I realized I needed an outside office (actually, they coerced me). Recently we moved to a real office suite with three private offices, a storeroom and our “war room,” and I could not be happier. I like being able to leave my work behind (rather than in the room at the end of the hall). I still often work seven days a week and 10-12 hour days, especially before trial, but I love it. I really love having my home back without my employees and their work spread out all over the place.
Tap into the Entrepreneurial Spirit
In my “former life” I had my own independent nursing practice for 14 years providing exercise therapy, disease management and personal training. However, I wanted to use my epidemiology background as well as my nursing skills in a more challenging way. On three different occasions I tried to work for a hospital or research company, but I could not tolerate working for someone else and going to mandatory meetings that only wasted my time.
I have always viewed myself as an entrepreneur, relished competition and challenges, and most important, preferred working on my own. I have always been driven and motivated. After all I am a first-born child, and my parents are German (complete with strong work ethic).
I truly enjoy learning and continue to take post-doctoral studies in epidemiology and public health, as well as holding a faculty position at a school of public health. I read motivational books and magazines. I try to surround myself with successful, driven people and stay away from “toxic” people who drain me.
Take the Fast Track to CLNC® Success
In spite of my background, I could not have considered entering this field without attending Vickie Milazzo Institute’s CLNC Certification Program and purchasing all the Institute’s educational materials. I wanted to get on the fast track and was willing to do whatever it took to leapfrog over those who were still wondering how to start.
I believe that you must make a financial and emotional commitment if you want to be successful in this business. In less than a year, I reached my financial goal, achieving that magic six-figure income. I immediately plowed most of that back into my company to grow even more successful.
My suggestions for those of you entering this field are:
- Attend more than one of Vickie Milazzo Institute’s programs and purchase all their educational materials related to your business interests. This is a small investment for starting a potentially very profitable business on the fast track.
- Attend legal conferences. Use local conferences for schmoozing and others for education and more schmoozing.
- Ask friends, family and colleagues for referrals and introductions to potential clients.
- Learn as much as you can about starting a business.
- Let your education and experience work for you.
- Take care of yourself and, most important, believe in yourself.
- Remember – inch by inch, anything’s a cinch.
Good luck and work hard – it’s worth it.
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