When Is It Too Late to Follow Your Dream? Never*
by Leanne Sells, BSN, RN, CLNC
I suppose I’m not your typical Certified Legal Nurse Consultant as I waited seven years after completing the CLNC® Certification Program before finally jumping in. I received my CLNC Certification in 2011, and I even dabbled my toe in the CLNC waters, including a six-month relationship with a disability attorney before he retired. But my 20-plus years as an obstetrical and neonatal nurse was like an enormous anchor holding me back.
In October of 2018, I cut the nursing anchor loose and plunged into my CLNC® business full time. By February of 2019, I had surpassed my nursing salary.
It didn’t help that one attorney-client and I had a gross disagreement. It was a case where antibiotics were stopped too soon and the patient died. An antibiotic review expert said he would have done the same thing, and I agreed. The attorney consulted an infectious disease expert who said it would have been better if the antibiotics had been continued.
The law as it applies to medicine had always interested me. I even considered going back to school and getting a law degree, but now the bitter aftertaste of that case left me wondering if I really had what it takes to be a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant. Shaken, I withdrew to lick my wounds.
Following Vickie’s 5 Promises Gave Me a Fresh Perspective
It took years for me emerge from that failure. Vickie’s legal nurse consulting training kept stirring around in my head, however, reminding me that even the worst upset is a stepping stone to success. I decided then to step back and reevaluate myself as objectively as possible, including my professional abilities and my nursing career to date. All my evaluations were excellent. I was pleased with what I had accomplished in nursing, and I had done quite well in the CLNC Certification Program. So why couldn’t I make the transition work for me? Eventually, I realized that I had let one disagreement frame everything.
Much of what Vickie teaches applies to more than being a legal nurse consultant – it applies to life. Using her 5 Promises, I decided to improve “me” before I put myself out there again, and this time it would be as a full-fledged, full-time legal nurse consultant, ready to fly. I began educating myself in other nursing disciplines. I moved into a clinical educator roll, which I enjoyed tremendously while also realizing how much this could help me in speaking with attorneys about case specifics.
Leaving My Comfortable Nursing Specialty Broadened My View
Encouraged by what I was learning, and remembering Vickie’s advice to “do one thing daily toward your goal,” I stepped into clinical nurse management. Then three years in the hospital’s clinical quality excellence department opened my eyes to the diversity in nursing. I became involved for the first time in the investigative part of my profession, which was certain to improve my abilities as a CLNC consultant.
Finally, in March of 2018, I analyzed myself again and knew it was time to step out. I recalled how gung-ho with excitement I’d been after gaining my CLNC Certification from the best legal nurse consulting program – Vickie Milazzo Institute. The fact that Vickie was both a nurse and an attorney had figured strongly in my decision, and every moment of the course had proved me right. Now I embraced my accomplishments, including all my nursing school education, my CLNC training and my recent skills honed from three years in quality management.
The time had come. I was the best “me” I could be as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant. I was ready.
One Important Word I Learned From Vickie Saved Me
Keeping my full-time nursing job, I began to market my skills again as a CLNC consultant. I was able to build a strong relationship with two attorneys at a large firm. My confidence continued to grow as I worked on case after case, turning out excellent work product and drawing the attention of other attorneys in the firm. Then suddenly I faced the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make.
A principal firm in town offered me a salaried position. This was the firm any Certified Legal Nurse Consultant would most want to be a part of. I was floating on air – until I realized the salary being offered was not what I wanted.
A word Vickie had stressed during my training gave me the strength I needed at that moment: patience. I would not underprice myself. With appropriate expression of gratitude, I rejected their offer.
Stepping Out in Full Confidence, I Advocated for My Profession as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant
In October of 2018, I cut the nursing anchor loose and plunged into my CLNC business full time. By February of 2019, I had surpassed my nursing salary. The stunning proof that my approach was on target, and the exalting moment for me, arrived when the law firm I rejected came back to me and engaged my services on my terms.
Yes, I lost my confidence for a while and spent seven years regaining it, but from here, my CLNC business will only grow stronger and more successful.
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