In Just 3 Months as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant I Feel Empowered*
by Angeline Porter, RN, BSN, CLNC
In June of 2014, I began a diligent search for entrepreneurial nursing opportunities. I’ve always enjoyed working for myself. Before nursing, I worked as a veterinary technician and then in pharmaceutical research. After ten years as a registered nurse, I was looking for an opportunity to work from home and build a business.
When I found Vickie Milazzo Institute and the quality of support and everything Vickie brought together to build a business, it made sense to me. Vickie’s standards are extremely high, and I liked that. I’d seen other legal nurse consulting programs, but they weren’t the caliber I believed attorneys would want to work with.
When I do what Vickie says, it works. It all happened so quickly. The independence and the ability to be my own boss is priceless. I value Vickie and her staff. They truly are leaders, but also respected associates.
My husband and I agreed that I should go for it, so I attended the CLNC Certification Seminar and achieved my CLNC Certification.
My Financial Requirements Were High
When I decided to become a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant I was a hospice and private care nurse at a relatively high level, so my CLNC business had to measure up to good revenue fairly quickly. I investigated opportunities to exhibit at legal conferences. I planned to get in front of as many attorneys as possible. I found a legal conference in my area, paid for the exhibit space and recruited a couple of Certified Legal Nurse Consultants I’d met at the CLNC Certification Seminar to go in on it with me.
We followed Vickie’s advice to the letter – giveaways, chocolates, liquor and free case screenings. We stood at the booth, never sitting down. We smiled at everyone. At the end of the second day, an attorney we’d seen earlier stopped by our booth. “Wow,” he said, “you ladies are still standing.” We looked at each other thinking, hey, we are. A lot of folks weren’t, and having the attorney notice was validating.
For me, offering free screenings were another way to overcome the obstacle of getting started. With every attorney interaction, I used the script we were taught. I encouraged them to talk about themselves, “Tell me about the hot case you’re working on.” Then I offered to screen it for free. It worked.
In pharmaceutical research, I recruited doctors, nurses, scientists and analysts. Then as an admissions nurse, I had grown a population for a large hospice in the Phoenix area, turning 12 referrals per month into 48 referrals per month.
I brought those marketing skills forward, and I also listened to Vickie’s advice to ensure that the attorney is the one who is talking. That advice worked. Smiling, I’d say hi, then ask them about themselves until it was time for the magic close. “How about I take a look at that case for you?”
Following Up Is the Key to Getting the Case
The legal conference was a Thursday-Friday event, and I had to work my nursing job that weekend. On Monday, I emailed some of the attorneys I’d met a sample letter agreement and a note that my consulting fees were $150/hr.
Three attorneys returned the signed letter agreements. One attorney returned it that same day and also referred me to his partner. The partner returned the signed agreement and sent me 50 pages of a medical record. The third attorney who returned the letter said, “I anticipate needing a report. Let’s talk on such-such day.”
It all happened so quickly, all by email, after my follow up. Exhibiting literally launched everything because I put myself in front of attorneys.
Yesterday, after receiving a few checks, I opened my business account. I expect two more cases this week. An attorney who was referred to me has paid me for two case screenings and has given me excellent feedback, saying he plans to continue to use my CLNC services.
Doing What Vickie Says Pays Off
When I have questions, I go to the National Alliance of Certified Legal Nurse Consultants (NACLNC®) membership resources and I also read Vickie’s Legal Nurse Consulting Blog. The resources and videos not only have the answers I need, they give me a boost.
A big part of making success happen, is doing the work. I keep falling back on what Vickie teaches: I’m a nurse, I know nursing and I’m not trying to be anything else. Vickie’s quote sits on my desk as a reminder, “Communicate what you believe is true about the record.” I may not know all the legal jargon – I may not say everything right the first time, but I can translate that record to the attorney just as I would for a patient.
As a palliative care nurse, hospice nurse and nurse case manager in the hospital environment, I’ve served as liaison between physicians and patients. The patients were dealing with major life-limiting diagnoses. Part of my job was trying to explain the Greek those specialists spoke, what it meant to them specifically and how they were going to journey through the experience.
The skills I developed with patients have proved useful with attorneys. During my first verbal reporting, the attorney said, “Hold on a second, let me close the door. I need to take notes.” I thought, Oh, my! He’s really interested. You hear Vickie’s voice, “The attorneys need what you know.” When it actually happens, it’s extremely validating.
The case for which I’m waiting on additional records concerns a woman who was 22 weeks pregnant and had a misdiagnosed bowel obstruction. She perforated her bowel and lost the pregnancy. The record shows the physician’s suspicion that this patient was drug seeking. I’m waiting on subsequent records that will confirm she wasn’t drug seeking. They labeled this woman in a certain way, and now her body is deformed forever and she’s lost a baby. I’m not an OB nurse, but this was basic nursing.
“I’m not quite ready to give my conclusive opinion,” I told the attorney. “I need additional records, because reading between the lines, I suspect something is wrong.” If I hadn’t worked as a nurse, I would never have known to ask for those files. Vickie tells us, “Communicate what you believe is true.” When I do what Vickie says, it works.
Becoming a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant Reignited a Spark in Me
Everybody wants to be of use. I was leaving nursing because I didn’t want to be a traditional nurse any longer. As a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant, I’m using the skills I already have and applying them in a new way. I feel that I am helping people and being of use.
Again, Vickie said it best. She said she had to leave nursing because her mouth got her in trouble. That’s been my life story. At my last case management job, my director called me in and said, “Angeline, we can’t find anything wrong with your work.” Okay, I thought, and waited for the “but.” The “but” was that I was giving our patients too much information. Management didn’t like that. If patients know their rights, they can be squeaky wheels.
Nurses, I believe, are supposed to advocate for the patient. Legal nurse consulting allows me to do just that. I advocate to the attorney, and the attorney can advocate to a much broader audience. I feel empowered again.
One aspect I love about my CLNC business, among many others, is the constant learning. I’m challenged to continue doing research in nursing and healthcare. That wasn’t an aspect I anticipated. As a graduate student and to get my BSN, I’d done research, but now I enjoy looking at what’s current in the industry. It’s fun to learn new things.
The independence and the ability to be my own boss is priceless, and I want it to grow beyond what I alone can do. After only five months as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant, I envision my CLNC business expanding. Now I’m searching for Certified Legal Nurse Consultants to engage in an alliance. I like bouncing ideas around.
In that regard, once again, I value Vickie and her staff. They truly are leaders, but also respected associates. That’s the level of professionalism I want for my legal nurse consulting business.
Click here for success story ideas.