After completing my master’s degree, I knew I didn’t want to teach nursing. I’d previously seen an advertisement for Vickie Milazzo Institute’s CLNC Certification Program and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The idea of using what I already knew in a more interesting way appealed to me.
Finally, a year later, the timing seemed right. My husband was on active duty and we were moving. Why not make the change complete? So we finished moving on Friday and I started the CLNC Certification Program on Monday.
Three months later, I exhibited with a couple of Certified Legal Nurse Consultants at a national legal conference. There were 750 attorneys present and I intended to talk to as many as possible. At one point while standing at our display, I introduced myself to an attorney sitting nearby. When he asked, “So what do you do?” I jumped right in with my 30-second elevator speech as if my client list was huge. “I take all those medical records and whittle them down to concise information for my attorney-clients.” He then asked, “Can you do chronological timelines?” I responded with my new favorite word, “Absolutely!” His response, “Perfect. Do you have an example?” Of course, I did. Hadn’t Vickie taught me to be prepared? I emailed the chronological timeline samples to the attorney’s office, then telephoned him to follow up. After a brief discussion, he said, “Kim, I’ll make your eyes swim.”
I Learned to Roll with It
The first time an attorney-client critiques your work, it feels personal. The attorney sits there picking it apart, saying, “I don’t like this,” or “That’s not right.” And you’re thinking, Oh, but I put my heart and soul into this. That’s when I’d remember Vickie’s advice, “It’s not personal; it’s business.”
My first medical malpractice case was scary. The attorney wanted me to find a testifying expert, but after reviewing the files, I knew he didn’t have a case. What if telling him his case was nonmeritorious caused me to lose his business? One or two attorneys can keep you busy, but the more you have, the safer you feel.
He had already signed my contract, so I could find him a testifying expert and let the expert break the bad news. But I needed to be honest. So I said, “If I find you an expert, there are questions I want him to answer for you, as these are the issues in your case that concern me.” The attorney was grateful for my candid advice and was glad he hadn’t filed yet.
Later, I exhibited with a CLNC Marketing Mentor from Vickie Milazzo Institute at another legal conference. Several attorneys were talking about “TBI.” They were looking for help with a case. They asked me, “Can you help out?” I could hear Vickie’s voice: You have to always be marketing. So I smiled and uttered my favorite word, “Absolutely.”
After the attorneys went to their next session, I turned to the CLNC Marketing Mentor and said, “What the heck is a TBI?” TBI means traumatic brain injury. In the context of a hospital, I know what traumatic brain injury is, but in the legal context I didn’t recognize the abbreviation.
Nevertheless, I was learning the ropes. The point is to put yourself out there. Take the case, then figure out what to do with it. I left that legal conference with 25 attorney contacts. That was on a Thursday. On Saturday, I emailed every one of them. On Monday, I had four new cases on my desk.
The Full Spectrum of Medical-Related Cases Is Fascinating
Right now I’m working on the most fascinating case I’ve had so far as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant. The patient, a 35-year-old male, was in a motor vehicle accident which turned out to be a red herring. His attorneys were pursuing the case as medical malpractice because after the accident the patient was diagnosed as having a copper deficiency. When the attending physicians administered copper it aggravated his symptoms. He didn’t have a copper deficiency; he had Wilson’s disease, a condition of having too much copper in the system.
Wilson’s disease is an obscure double-genetic malady. Both parents have to be carriers, and only one in 30,000 births result in Wilson’s disease, so not a lot of people have it. Prior to the accident the patient had not been diagnosed with Wilson’s disease.
This case was fascinating to me because I had worked in the emergency department with someone who had Wilson’s disease. In an effort to better understand copper deficiency, I had to do a lot of interesting research.
This case was different because I got to see it from the time the patient entered the medical system until the time damages occurred. Hindsight, as they say, is always 20/20. If you look at each piece of this case individually it’s challenging to see the problem, whereas looking back through the records it becomes apparent. Getting to see the whole spectrum is fascinating to me.
I Have Amazing Freedom as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant
While teaching I worked five days a week, 7:30am-4:30pm, plus the hours I spent preparing for the next lecture and grading papers in the evenings. That didn’t leave much time to spend with my boys. Now, when they walk in from school, my office light goes off. I’m available to them. One son is a gymnast and another is in the marching band. I go to all their events.
Yet they know that when I’m in my office with the door shut and my light on, they’re not supposed to bother me. As a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant, I work pretty much from 9:00am to 3:00pm, six days a week, and occasionally I’m called to lecture which keeps me active in nursing.
That attorney I met in Las Vegas who needed chronological timelines was good to his word. We talked in October and by the end of that month I had my first case. In November I billed more than $13,000. In December I billed well over 200 hours.
With money coming in I can do whatever I want to do. If I choose to accept a new case or a new series of litigation, fine. Or I can choose not to. That’s where my strategic alliance comes in. The Certified Legal Nurse Consultants I’ve become close to since the CLNC Certification Seminar exchange referrals with me, and I also hire them as CLNC subcontractors. Currently I’m handing off about 40 hours of overflow each month. This kind of freedom is amazing.
And yes, that attorney gave me so much work, he did make my eyes swim. Absolutely!
Kim Anable, RN, MSN Ed, CLNC is the president and owner of Anable & Associates, LLC. Kim has more than two decades of nursing experience in maternal child health, risk management, labor and delivery, pediatric oncology, home health, critical care and the emergency department. She has spent several years teaching the standards of care in medical-surgical nursing as well as developing strategies for effective documentation skills.
P.S. Comment here to congratulate Kim on her CLNC success.