I Overcame My Fears as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant When I Remembered: I Am a Nurse and I Can Do Anything!*
by Diana Schmitt, RN, BSN, CLNC
My experience in hospital nursing was filled with mixed emotions. The frustration level was one that I have never experienced anywhere else. But I kept being a nurse, and I kept going to work. Nursing jobs paid the bills but did not contribute to my soul.
WOW, is how I describe the CLNC® Certification Seminar. I was amazed by Vickie and the course content.
When I saw Vickie Milazzo’s ad for the CLNC® Certification Program, I wondered if this was a nursing career that I could be passionate about. I saw the ad several more times after that. Each time I felt a tremendous pull. The woman in the ad looked like no nurse in my facility. Vickie personified a victorious nurse dedicated to her profession, unlike other ads where the model-like woman leaps through the air with her hair blowing in the wind.
Little did I know I was implementing a business plan by showing the ad to my husband and proclaiming, “What an investment this would be for our future. We need to choose the VIP CLNC Success System and take advantage of all the available resources.”
My fear of flying could not hold me back. Several months later, I looked out of the airplane window after take-off. Dark thunderheads hung over the mountain tops. Lightning flashed sending streaks of light all around the plane. Down below, hundreds of colorful hot air balloons lit up Balloon Fiesta Park waiting for their early morning launch. My overwhelmed senses were full of expectations yet to come and I was calmed by the knowledge that I was so lucky to be the lead character in this new adventure.
That was the calm before the storm. WOW, is how I describe the CLNC Certification Seminar. I was amazed by Vickie and the course content. Then the NACLNC® 2-Day Apprenticeship followed. I was brain-dead by the time it was over. I assumed the hardest and most challenging part was behind me. I went home and began implementing everything I had learned right away.
I went on my first marketing campaign in my hometown. I had seven promotional packets. Each one contained a personalized introduction letter to the attorney, a brochure, a business card and a professional profile. I marketed to all seven offices, but it took every ounce of courage I had. My husband went with me to the first office. I’m sure “amateur” was written all over me. I decided taking my husband wasn’t a good idea. The next office I went to was torturous. I stood there knowing I had to go in, but wishing I didn’t have to. My palms were wet and my mouth was dry. My husband reassured me from the sidewalk and I took a deep breath and went in. I met four attorneys that day. Each time I felt out of my element and left the office thinking, “There has to be another way.” I felt as wanted as a telemarketer.
I did the “busy thing” for a while after that. We built an office and I set that up. I reviewed the advanced resources in my VIP CLNC Success System. Then I went to the NACLNC Conference in March. I talked with Certified Legal Nurse Consultants about their strategies for overcoming fears. Nothing clicked for me. I did discover other strategies to beef up my promotional packet and implemented them as soon as I got home. I went on several more marketing campaigns, but I could not overcome the fear of meeting attorneys. I went to their offices hoping I wouldn’t see any. I could relate to the office staff and break ice with them, but not the attorney. How was I going to get business with this mindset? The fear of meeting attorneys was bordering on a phobia.
The turning point came when a legal secretary called my office after receiving my promotional package and left a message for me to call. As usual, I contacted Vickie Milazzo Institute for mentoring. I listened carefully to the CLNC Mentor and followed up with the appropriate phone calls and sent a follow-up letter. Three weeks later, the legal secretary called to set up my first appointment with the attorney. I was thrilled, but it was short-lived as fear began to well up inside of me, again. I contacted Vickie Milazzo Institute for mentoring yet again. I was probably over-prepared for this meeting, but it was important to get it right. I would have to do this in spite of the fear.
I had no idea what to expect, but I was well prepared in every way right down to the power suit. I arrived at the office early to find out the attorney would be late. “That’s okay,” I thought, “I can wait.” There were a couple of gentlemen also waiting. We made small talk until the attorney arrived. After she arrived, she took one of the gentlemen in her office for about twenty minutes. He left and then the legal secretary ushered me and the other gentleman into a small conference room.
“What is this?” I thought. I was led to believe it would be the attorney and I, only. Everyone was introduced. It was very formal.
The attorney said, “This is Mrs. Schmitt. She is an expert and she is going to tell us how to proceed. Go ahead, Mr. Jones (not his real name), tell her your story.”
I felt my eyes bug out. My inner voice said, “Wait! I didn’t practice this! No time for a CLNC Mentor request.”
The man started talking, but I could not understand him. His lips were moving and I could hear his voice, but I was so paralyzed with fear that I wondered what I looked like to him or, horror of horrors, what did I look like to the attorney?! I thought, “I better snap out of it because the attorney is going to expect something intelligent from me!”
Thank God this drama was only going on inside my head and not in the room. In a split second, I realized that sitting in front of me was a patient, Mr. Jones. My nursing instincts kicked in. I forgot about the power suit I was wearing and immediately began to assess his physical condition and his words became crystal clear. “The other guy dropped the air conditioner causing me to fall and hurt my back and knee,” he continued.
The 33 services that Certified Legal Nurse Consultants offer with a risk-free guarantee faded away as I asked, “How many days after the surgery did you notice the redness and swelling?”
My sample work products became forgotten when I told the attorney, “The infection that your client acquired after surgery was not the result of mismanaged care because they did a culture and treated it in a timely manner.”
The attorney asked numerous questions: “How can you tell if it was the hospital’s fault? What can you tell from the medical records?” The attorney mysteriously became a patient as well. She wanted to know what I knew. I answered all her questions demonstrating how I, the Certified Legal Nurse Consultant, could help with her medical-related cases. I stated that in my opinion there was no medical malpractice in this case and that she should only pursue the personal injury claim. I explained vocational and functional capacity evaluations that could strengthen her case. As the conversation went on she was amazed at the information I provided. She was a criminal defense attorney and had people ask her about taking medical malpractice cases. She said she had five potential medical malpractice cases and set up an appointment with me for the next case.
That experience changed me. I had heard other success stories that sounded too good to be true; a CLNC consultant goes into an attorney’s office and walks out with armloads of cases. But this attorney was truly sincere.
I now remember that I’m a nurse when I market to attorneys, which is what I should have been doing all along. I am not a salesperson, I am proud to be a nurse. Now, when I go into attorneys’ offices, I hope I meet them and ask if they are in so I can meet them. I look forward to educating them about how I can cost effectively consult on their medical-related cases. The expertise of registered nurses is as important to attorneys as it is to patients. Thanks to Vickie Milazzo and the CLNC Mentors, this expertise is available to every attorney through all of us Certified Legal Nurse Consultants. It is our job to educate attorneys in every creative way we can.
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