My first glimpse at becoming a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant came in the late 1990s when Vickie Milazzo described the exact type of career I envisioned for myself. I was immediately intrigued.
Still new to nursing, I waited and watched for Vickie’s updates and kept the idea on a back burner. Life moved on. I got divorced, became a travel nurse, remarried and switched careers. Fifteen years later, the right set of circumstances finally clicked into place. One of them was having a toddler.
My daughter was born around the time I turned 40, so I was no longer willing to put in 80-hour weeks at the hospital. I started working toward my master’s degree, yet pushing myself up the ladder in management didn’t feel like the right fit. I wanted a career with more flexibility, a few extra hours here and there to enjoy my family, and I wanted to work from home.
Though I didn’t quit my day job, I switched jobs to a clinical consulting position for an insurance company. I took the CLNC Certification Program and began to focus on my 90-day marketing plan. That was early September. Following Vickie’s recommendations, I gave myself deadlines. By the end of October I planned to reach out and touch base with potential clients. The end of December was my deadline to actually have cases in hand and start working them.
Vickie talks about making the most of every networking opportunity and that you don’t always know where or when an opportunity will arise. In the small Indiana town where I live, people from businesses on the square stay open late on Halloween to hand out candy to the kids running around in their costumes. So, I took my three-year-old trick-or-treating downtown.
My daughter walked up to a table outside an attorney’s office. I noticed the business was new and inquired about their specialty. When the attorney said he litigated personal injury and medical malpractice cases, I immediately recognized my opportunity, introduced myself as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant and struck up a conversation. Like Vickie says, I put everything out there.
The attorney asked for a business card. Since the firm was new to the area, they were looking for a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant to review cases. A couple of emails and phone calls later, I had my first case. As the attorney handed me the case, he said, “There are more on my desk after you finish this one.”
During our conversation he offered to help me network with other attorneys. Although new to our town, he has been practicing in the state for more than 25 years and has a large medical malpractice network. He refers most of his complex cases, and he offered to send my information along with the next case he refers. Naturally, I was elated.
He seemed particularly impressed with my experience as a quality and risk director in a local hospital system where I reviewed cases for peer review and for attorneys in the risk department. Prior to that, I had experience in pharmaceuticals, medical device and FDA-recall. My bedside nursing was all in critical care.
As we talked longer about my ability and background, my first attorney-client began to consider keeping his medical malpractice cases in house. “Moving forward,” he said, “if you can help us screen our medical malpractice cases, my partner and I will definitely plan to retain more of the big ones that have complex issues.”
Taking Vickie’s advice to “always have your business cards on you and make the most of every networking opportunity,” worked for me. In fact, everything she says works.
Legal nurse consulting is something I’ve wanted to do from the time I was a baby nurse and noticed that first promotion from Vickie Milazzo Institute. While I may not have realized at the time what it would mean to me later, keeping my nursing experience broad and vast provided me with the knowledge and confidence I need.
Additionally, having spent the last couple of years in quality and risk at the hospital – reviewing and prepping cases for peer review, going into litigation and working with risk – I’ve seen the hospital side of it, including outcomes I didn’t necessarily agree with ethically and morally as a nurse. It took a lot out of me, but it also was enlightening.
I see being a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant as an opportunity and know I have the nursing experience and CLNC Certification training to help attorneys decipher and see the facts of a medical-related case for what they are.
It feels wonderful knowing I don’t have to keep pushing in my nursing career – constantly looking for that next RN job that pays me more. I love working from home, my husband is supportive, and legal nurse consulting gives me more flexibility to be a mom.
I’m glad I finally took the opportunity to put all my knowledge to use. It’s 2018, and I’m starting a new year with a new legal nurse consultant business and bright new possibilities.
Guest Blogger Profile
Kelly Knapp, RN, BSN, CLNC of K2 Consulting, LLC specializes in critical care, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, quality/risk management and ambulatory/managed care.
P.S. Comment here to congratulate Kelly on her CLNC Success.