I Love Defining My Legal Nurse Consulting Success on My Own Terms*
by Leana Peterson-Leaf, RN, CLNC
In high school I dreamed of traveling the world and unraveling mysteries untold. I wanted to be an investigative reporter. My only problem was that I was too shy to talk to strangers. So I went into nursing school to make a difference. Ironically, I found the courage not only to talk to strangers, but to ask them the most embarrassing questions about their bodily functions.
I am making money, I feel successful and I love it…. I feel stimulated and enthusiastic about my future.
Over the course of my nursing career, I went from proud new nurse paying my dues on the night shift, to the top of the pay scale in hemodialysis. After spending more than 15 years in this specialty, and weathering the storms of managed care and downsizing, I found myself underpaid, overworked and undervalued. I was traveling the path I had most resisted, becoming a burned out nurse.
My CLNC® Certification Launched My Invigorating Trip to Success
For a number of years, I’d been planning to become a legal nurse consultant, but my plans were cast in Jello. Then I learned about Vickie Milazzo Institute’s CLNC Certification Program, and I had, as Oprah would say, my “Aha!” moment. I knew that Vickie Milazzo Institute’s program was based on sound, ethical business practices and it is delivered with integrity. I had fortitude, persistence and faith in myself and in Vickie’s principles. How could I fail if I applied those principles?
Becoming a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant was my first step toward success. The trip has been invigorating.
When I started my consulting business, I defined success in measurable amounts of money. I quickly learned the most gratifying rewards are not tangible. Success comes when you least expect it, and it is not always what you expect.
Success #1: I Have the Best of Both Worlds
My first case was a large medical malpractice suit in a specialty I considered my greatest weakness, cardiac. I took the case anyway. Three hospitals were involved, and all the records were mixed together. It took me six hours just to put them in order. You can imagine how pleased my attorney-client was when I gave him a full report in just 32 pages, including a great deal of research.
This was my first success: Realizing I had fulfilled my dream of being a nurse and an investigative reporter. I have the best of both worlds.
Success #2: Self-Respect Is the Best Success of All
The attorney loved my report. His only question was, “What does CCU stand for?” I couldn’t believe it. Here was an attorney getting ready to litigate a million-dollar suit, and he didn’t even know what CCU means. I told myself, if he has the guts, I have the guts. That was my second success: Respecting and valuing my own abilities.
Success #3: Going for It Makes Everything Else Possible
At first, I practiced part time as a CLNC consultant, working approximately 20 hours a week while maintaining my full-time home health position and raising four teenagers. I quickly learned I could not devote the attention my CLNC practice required. Following up with contacts and implementing the many ideas rolling around in my head became difficult.
My husband, a businessman and most supportive partner, said, “Quit your job when you feel the time is right. I’m behind this all the way.” That was all I needed to hear. Despite fearing loss of income, change of lifestyle and mostly failure, I stuck my neck out. My third success was finding the courage to go for it.
Success #4: My Value Lies in How I Think and What I Know
I have now been in business for only three years, but the personal and professional achievement I have experienced far exceeds anything I could have imagined. I am intellectually challenged by each new case, stepping out of my box to research and explore unknown territory.
When one regular client gives me a case, he often says, “It’s yours. You tell me what to do.” This kind of respect is a far cry from being valued for how much I can physically do in an eight-hour shift and how much of my personal time I am willing to give beyond the call of duty. This is my fourth success: I am valued and respected for how I think and what I know.
The Ultimate Success: I’m Feeling Successful Doing What I Love
Today, I am making money, I feel successful and I love it. I’m reaching out to attain goals and learning every day. Once again, I feel stimulated and enthusiastic about my future.
As I write this CLNC Success Story, I’m sitting here in my bathrobe and slippers with my hair a mess. My kids are off to school and my dog is lying on the floor next to me. Around 9:00am the phone will start ringing, and I will be talking to clients who call me because they value my knowledge and expertise.
I am enjoying every step of this journey, both the challenges and the successes, because I am in control of my future. There are no failures in this business. If I don’t get the new client, so what? I move on. There are lots of attorneys out there. Failures are merely learning experiences that lead to the next success, and the next.
The moral of my story is this: Doing what you love is success. Success is not defined by fortune alone. It doesn’t come while you’re looking for it. It comes unexpectedly while you’re filling the needs of your clients. It arrives in the moment you discover the key to your case and put the last piece of the puzzle in place.
My advice to aspiring Certified Legal Nurse Consultants: Stick your neck out and get busy failing – I mean, learning – so you too can succeed – on your own terms. Enjoy your journey to CLNC success, because this journey truly has no end.
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