After I became a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant I built my attorney-client base from one to four attorney-clients while still working at the hospital. Many weeks I worked 10-15 hours of overtime at my RN job in the ambulatory surgery department. And while this added to my checking account, I felt physically drained, mentally bored and definitely not in control of my nursing career. My CLNC business suffered because my hospital job took priority.
Some days I would come home exhausted and then receive a call from an attorney-client. I was instantly energized and my mind was sharp and clear. That’s when I realized I had found my passion as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant. I also realized that the all-consuming hospital was a threat to my passion and I had to develop a concrete plan – a way out for good.
I created a chart comparing my hourly wage as an RN to my hourly fee as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant. Looking at that chart mentally set me free. I saw that I could replace my 40 hours per week pay with just 10 hours per week as a CLNC consultant. It suddenly became doable and not just some long sought-after dream. I then created a calendar which highlighted all my days off and I realized how much time I had to build my CLNC business. I set weekly and monthly goals for actual hours billed and put all my extra time and energy into achieving those goals. Some weeks and months I would meet or exceed them; other months I would fall behind, but my overall trend was positive in building my CLNC business.
I focused on marketing to my current attorney-clients after listening to the CLNC marketing audio programs. I kept in touch by delivering treats to the offices on atypical holidays like St. Patrick’s Day and Halloween. This not only reminded the attorneys about me, but also endeared me to the support staff. Gatekeepers became friends and supporters instead of roadblocks. As my cases concluded and had positive outcomes for my attorney-clients, my reputation was established and marketing became almost effortless through referrals. Eventually my attorney-client list expanded from my small town to cities across the state.
Although my CLNC business income was consistent, leaving the security of the hospital was still frightening. Getting a paycheck every two weeks is very reassuring and comforting. Again, I wrote down exactly what I was earning at the hospital and compared that to my CLNC earnings. I realized I was actually losing money by working at the hospital. I was billing $125/hr to attorneys, so the $60/hr for overtime shifts was not worth the wear and tear on my body. Health insurance was increasing by 15%, yet I would get only a 1% raise, meaning I would be making 14% less than the previous year! Although hospitals are seductive and seem safe and secure, I knew I really had no control in that environment including the risk of RN layoffs.
I dropped to part-time status at my hospital job and put even more effort into marketing to attorney-prospects. My husband was laid off right after this change, but the strength of my CLNC business soon made up for his lost income. He was able to make a career change and earn less because of my increased income. Six months later I left my hospital job and reached my dream of becoming an independent Certified Legal Nurse Consultant!
It pays to know when to cut the cord and put all of your efforts into your CLNC business.
Susan Schaab, RN, BSN, CLNC is the owner of Schaab Consulting in Montana. She consults on medical malpractice, personal injury and products liability cases for both plaintiff and defense firms.
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