Ugly Duckling to Golden Goose – How I Conquered My Fear*
by Lawrence H. Frace, RN, CLNC
Two years ago I was a registered nurse with 26 years of experience. I liked my job as a night tour nursing supervisor, but I was suffering from what I call “professional bradycardia.” After taking Vickie’s CLNC® Certification Seminar, I immediately knew my professional (and personal) life was about to change.
I immediately knew my professional (and personal) life was about to change.
I had tried other part-time activities in addition to my full-time nursing career. I was a licensed real estate salesperson, a soil and site evaluator, an Amway distributor, a part-time farmer growing sweet corn on my dad’s farm. I even sent away for a program on how to buy real estate with little or no money down. But I finally found my niche as a CLNC consultant.
Fear Was My Stumbling Block
However, as a new Certified Legal Nurse Consultant I faced a huge stumbling block that initially held me back. I’m sharing my experience so that maybe the obstacle I tripped over time and time again will not be a stumbling block for others. That stumbling block was fear, pure unadulterated fear.
I am 6-foot 2-inches tall, two hundred and some-odd pounds, and for the first time I found myself confronting professional fear. So I did what any reasonable and prudent new Certified Legal Nurse Consultant would do. I procrastinated!
Oh, I dove right in from day one, setting up my office in my basement, complete with used office furniture, fax machine and multiple phone lines, including an 800 number. I went out and purchased a brand new computer and one of those dot-com address things and posted my website on the Internet, SpectrumMedicalLegal.com. Boy, was I proud of that!
I went through Vickie’s Core Curriculum for Legal Nurse Consulting® textbook again and again, 30 minutes each day. I subscribed to a host of nursing journals. I started compiling an electronic medical-legal library that I thought was second to none. I went to libraries and book sales and purchased used medical and legal textbooks, carefully displaying them on the walls in my new basement office.
I also created a letter agreement, just like the sample in the Core Curriculum, to use for all my anticipated cases. But you know what? I didn’t send any of my promotional packets out to attorneys.
Six months later, I said to myself, “But wait a minute. I still have no cases. What’s wrong with this picture?” Then it dawned on me: It was fear…fear of actually getting that first case.
I Tried Marketing with My Fingers Crossed
I put my foot down. I finally sent out seven – count them seven – marketing packets. You’ll never guess what happened. Two law firms called, and they both wanted to meet with me. Now I thought to myself, “I am in big trouble.”
I met with attorney #1, and he told me all the real work on the case was done; it just needed to be tabbed and paginated. I walked away from that one and said, “Thank God, at least I didn’t get an actual case to work on.”
Attorney #2 had told me on the phone that her case involved a person with a physical disability being treated unfairly by an employer. I set up a date to meet with attorney #2 and did what any novice CLNC consultant would do prior to that all-important first meeting. I researched the disability and how it could be accommodated in the workplace according to cutting-edge, authoritative reports in journals and textbooks. I placed this information in my briefcase and gave it to attorney #2 when I met her.
She looked through the information and said, “Thank you, this is just what I needed.” Then she shook my hand, and that was the end of the meeting.
Now I remember Vickie saying, “Give attorneys what they want and one thing more.” The problem was, how did I know, novice that I was, that I’d handed the attorney that “one thing more” up front and thus got no compensation on that case? I chalked my loss up to experience and said once again, “Thank God, at least I didn’t get an actual case to work on.” I left attorney #2’s office empty-handed.
Still having no cases under my CLNC belt, I started marketing a product to attorneys across the nation, an idea I had gleaned from Vickie. Several weeks later I started receiving checks in the mail. This was great – go to the mailbox, get the money, send out the product. But now I felt guilty. Here I was, marketing a product to attorneys, and I still did not have a case.
Then I Tried Marketing for Real
I put my foot down again – this time really hard – and sent out seven more marketing packets. Wouldn’t you know it, one of the law firms called me. I met with that attorney, and he gave me the case, the chart, the “whole enchilada.”
By the way, here’s a tip on getting paid by attorneys: Get your money up front. That’s Vickie’s tip not mine, and it works. When that first attorney-client asked about my fee, I told him what I charged and stated that I get my fee up front. He looked at me, paused, then opened his checkbook and wrote me a check. I left with both chart and check in hand.
Then fear turned into panic as I thought, “Now what am I going to do?” Delving into the chart at home, I created a chronology, got a real feel for the case, took notes and put into practice what I’d learned from Vickie nearly a year-and-a-half earlier. And guess what? Writing the report was fun, which surprised me since I had always thought that would be one of the most difficult tasks.
A month later when I handed the attorney his report, I did include that “one thing more.” But this time I got it right, and he was pleased. In fact, he gave me case #2, and without my asking, out came his checkbook. “I know, Larry,” he said, “you get your money up front.”
“Wow, I trained that attorney well,” I thought as I left his office with chart and check in hand. Since then, he has given me case #3 and, yes, his checkbook automatically opened up before I left his office.
Your Nursing Skills and Credentials Are for Real
As nurses we often underestimate our abilities, especially if we’re doing something new to us, like legal nurse consulting. Don’t underestimate your abilities as I did. With your nursing training and experience, coupled with Vickie’s knowledge, guidance and CLNC resources, believe me, you will succeed.
Imagine getting paid for work you absolutely love to do. It’s almost like stealing – well, almost. All of Vickie’s Certified Legal Nurse Consultants have a powerful, marketable product–to offer. We all have our CLNC Certification. Don’t ever forget that.
Remember the saying, “You have nothing to fear but fear itself.” It took me one-and-a-half years to realize that concept. Don’t let that happen to you. Just go out there and “Do It.” Do your best and follow Vickie’s plan.
Vickie Is for Real
I will close with this true story about Vickie herself. I know it’s true because I was there. On the last day of our CLNC Certification Seminar, our group circulated and signed a thank-you card that read something like this:
Dear Vickie, you took all of us Ugly Ducklings and turned us into Golden Geese.
One student surprised Vickie by presenting the card to her on stage. As Vickie began to read the card, her eyes welled up and for several moments she could not speak. When she did speak, her voice began to quiver – she was visibly moved by that simple card. That’s when I knew Vickie truly cares about all her Ducklings and Golden Geese.
Thank you, Vickie, and your fine organization for awakening my potential and the nurse within me. And thank you, Vickie, for being you.
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