How I Earn Six Figures as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant*
by Kris Wilder, RN, BSN, CLNC
I had no idea the industry of legal nurse consulting existed, yet I was interested in the legal world even before I became a nurse. One day eight years into my career, I was talking to a coworker. “I love nursing,” I told her, “but the legal aspects of what we do intrigues me too. I wish I could find a way to do both.”
She immediately pulled up Vickie Milazzo Institute’s website, LegalNurse.com. “Why don’t you do this?” I read it, slept on it and a week later I was sitting in the CLNC Certification Seminar with Vickie and obtaining my CLNC Certification.
I met a nice mix of RNs there. A few were renewing their CLNC Certification but hadn’t yet done much. I had to wonder if they were taking their legal nurse consulting business seriously.
Less than two years after becoming a CLNC consultant, my income with bonus is six figures. And I absolutely love what I do as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant. I had no idea the industry of legal nurse consulting existed, yet I was interested in the legal world even before I became a nurse.
Why go to the trouble of training and getting certified if you aren’t going to put everything into it? I also met a number of Certified Legal Nurse Consultants who were quite successful. What I learned from this eclectic group was success is not going to fall in your lap: “You have to work for it. If you do what Vickie teaches, it definitely comes together.”
Two Career Choices (Nursing and Legal) Melded in a Way I Never Dreamed Possible
As a nurse, I understand medical records. It’s easy to tell what’s legit, what’s not, what is the standard of care and what’s not so common. As a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant, it’s extremely interesting to see the legal view and how the two fields merge and interact.
After being certified my big challenge was finding my place. I wanted to work as an in-house CLNC consultant. I saw an ad for a corporate nurse consultant that sounded interesting, so I applied. The company interviewed nurses for three full days, some with far more experience than I had. My specialties were emergency, urgent care and case management, which included a supervisory position. I had my master’s degree, but so did many other RNs. On the negative side, I had no experience in workers’ compensation, which was a key qualification. On the positive side, I was a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant.
“The deciding factor,” my new director told me later, “was your certification as a legal nurse consultant. Not one of the other applicants had it.”
Every Day Brings a New Case and a Fascinating New Experience
Being the manager for workers’ compensation might not sound sexy, but it’s my dream job. And I could not have landed it without my CLNC Certification. The corporation manufactures and supplies paints, coatings, optical products, specialty materials, glass and fiber glass. It has seven divisions with plants, distribution centers and retail stores around the world.
I’m in charge of the architectural coatings division and responsible for about 8,000 employees in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. I manage all of the workers’ comp and short-term disability claims as well as the return-to-work process.
Today I had a motor vehicle accident to review and also a knee injury case from a slip and fall. All of the workplace injuries occurring in my division come to my desk, from minor lacerations, shoulder strains and knee injuries to catastrophic traumas. I work to make sure each claim is a valid workers’ comp claim. I interact closely with the adjuster and our third-party administrator to gather information and records. Then I review past history and prior medical records for any pre-existing conditions that have contributed to this injury. I also work with physicians to expedite the return to work, or where indicated, to lift some of the restrictions that they have placed on the employee.
One challenging case involves an alleged back injury resulting from assembling a display. The instructions clearly stated that assembling the display is a two-person job, yet the worker did the assembly by himself. He didn’t follow protocol or procedure and wasn’t even wearing appropriate shoes. The incident report was not filed in a timely manner, nor did the employee follow my direction to seek care. The employee says his claim is work related, but my assessment is that it probably isn’t. The employee’s actions appear a bit suspicious, and he has become nonresponsive to human resources. Now I’m working with our attorneys because the worker will probably seek legal counsel.
Investigating the Workers’ Compensation Cases Is the Best Part of My Legal Nurse Consulting Job
Going through his chart, I made sure our chronological times were accurate. It’s been fascinating working this case from beginning to end. From my point of view, it’s a lot of investigating, and investigation is fun.
Career has always been a major focus for my life. When I was an RN, whatever my position at the time, I was always searching for what else was out there. I wanted something more. Now, as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant, I use my skills in an atypical way. I don’t work for attorneys, although I interact with them.
This job already feels like it’s exactly the right fit. I’m completely at ease interacting with attorneys on the issues of a case. I save my company money and protect them from wrongful claims, but I also support our employees, making sure they get the proper care and consideration, both medical and legal. It’s a rewarding and unique way to use both my nursing and legal training. I consider this my “final resting place.” I’ll be here for life.
The entire experience has been phenomenal. I have autonomy, which I love, and flexible work hours that start any time between 7:00am and 9:00am and finish accordingly. Also, I can work from home if I wish. The best part, though, is the investigation.
I love digging into a chart to determine whether the claim is legitimate or not and I assess how best to manage the medical care. Am I defending an employee with a valid claim or protecting the company from a fraudulent one?
I Wouldn’t Have this Phenomenal Opportunity Without Vickie Milazzo Institute’s CLNC Training
It’s pretty neat how it all has worked out. Most Certified Legal Nurse Consultants go the entrepreneurial route, which I didn’t want to do. In every other way, however, I followed Vickie’s process.
On the cover of my notebook, which I used in the CLNC Certification Seminar, I wrote one of Vickie’s quotes. She said, “Do something for your CLNC business every day.” Literally, I did that, whether it was looking online for a job, making an outreach call, touching base or selecting a new business outfit, I did something every day.
Less than two years after becoming certified as a CLNC consultant, my income with bonus is six figures. And I absolutely love what I do as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant. Every day, I wake up excited to go to work.
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