In our lives there are many seasons, and with each season there is opportunity to passionately pursue our purpose. From the moment I was asked (while in the second grade) what I wanted to do when I grew up, I said I was going to be a nurse.
At 17 I went to college to follow that dream, however, too homesick to continue, I came home and became a certified nursing assistant (CNA). While working as a CNA and waitress, I went to school to be a surgical technologist.
In 1990 I started my career in the operating room (OR) as a surgical technologist. Three years later I became a first assist, and then finally went back to nursing school. I completed my ADN in 2003. I continued to work in the OR while cross-training to the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) and endoscopy. After a few years, I was asked to be the OR supervisor which included five different departments. While in that role, I decided to go back to school again for my bachelors. I graduated in 2011 with my BSN and took a position as an OR manager for an 18 operating room Level II trauma center.
Approximately a year into my new position, I found myself growing restless again to enhance my nursing career. I had learned about legal nurse consulting from Vickie Milazzo Institute. I’ve always been interested in law, but nursing is my first love. By 2012, Vickie Milazzo Institute’s CLNC® Certification Program and the thought of being my own boss while making decent money really piqued my interest, however, I wasn’t sure if the timing was right.
I decided to go back for my master’s in healthcare administration, and in 2013 I moved to a different city to become a chief nursing officer (CNO). At the time I moved, I was still in my master’s program while starting a new job with much more responsibility. I loved every minute of that first year gleaning so many opportunities to expand my horizons. In 2015 I completed my master’s in healthcare administration.
During this time, I kept the end goal of owning my own business in the forefront. In 2017, I took the Institute’s CLNC Certification Program and became certified. I found everything fascinating and the Program was well worth the money, time and effort. Within a month of becoming a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant I got started. It was a great way to close out 2017.
In 2018, I was meeting with attorneys for lunch, showing them sample reports and obtaining legal nurse consultant jobs.
In March 2019, after submitting a mentoring request to the Institute, I was connected with a CLNC Mentor who I had not worked with before. She later hired me as a CLNC subcontractor. It was one of the best things that could have happened to me. The CLNC Mentor I subcontracted with had attorney-clients in numerous states and had experience in long term care. I learned what to look for in long term care cases, which was great, since I only had hospital experience. Being a subcontractor boosted my confidence.
In 2019, I had a major partner from a large law firm who was using my consulting services. There was another partner in that law firm I had been trying to work with. Although we had been in contact more than once, I had not yet received any work from him. One day I decided to look up when he had the next trial. On day one of the trial, I met him as we were both walking into the courthouse. He was surprised that I had come to court to see him. I showed up every day of that trial. We met for lunch approximately two weeks after the trial ended. At lunch he asked if I had nursing home experience because he was starting to do more nursing home cases. I was able to state that I had subcontracted on nursing home cases and could assist him. I also gave him a report I had prepared that addressed my opinions on the strengths and the weaknesses of the case he had just tried. After that lunch, I heard back from him thanking me for the candid report on what I had noticed at the trial and my ideas. Because of my persistence and subcontracting experience, I was able to retain him as an attorney-client. He continues to utilize my CLNC services today.
I thoroughly enjoy being my own boss, setting my own hours, and having the opportunity to work with attorneys on healthcare related matters. For me, developing my own company, owning my time and having work-life balance is by far the best feeling in the world.
I have found that the more I can offer the attorneys, the better chance I have of receiving cases from them. I market myself as having clinical as well as administrative experience, which qualifies me to provide a full overview of what occurs in the healthcare setting. I offer CLNC services that include expert witness location, trial preparation and being a part of the team while in court, analyzing medical records, plus a lot more.
The best advice I can give others is that it takes work. If it is your dream to be a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant, be prepared to put yourself out there. Although I had done so many things in my career, including move to a new city, start a new role all while in a master’s program, I still found myself dealing with insecurity. “Did I say the right things?” “Did I offend them?” I started driving myself crazy with self-doubt and worry. I discussed this with another successful CLNC consultant who advised “It’s normal for attorneys to not always get back to you right away. They are not on our timeframe. If you have repeat work from attorneys, then you need to stop worrying.” She was quite right. Some attorneys are great with immediate responses and others are not. It took me awhile to get used to it and not doubt myself. To be successful, it takes patience and determination. However, it is well worth it!
As I look back over the start of my healthcare career, I see how pursuing my passion of caring for others opened doors in my life to serve in various roles. Through different seasons of life, each experience has been a building block to where I am now. Having just passed the one-year mark consulting full time and turning 50 within a week of the one-year anniversary, I am absolutely fulfilled and thrilled to be pursuing this passion of assisting attorneys and running my own CLNC business. With this career, cases are new and challenging, and there is always something to learn. My passion for learning and helping others is being fulfilled. All the experience from CNA to CNO helped prepare me for owning my own legal nurse consulting business. May my various seasons of life encourage others to continue pursuing their passions, while never giving up on fulfilling their purpose.
Guest Blogger Profile
Jacquelyn Maki, RN, BSN, MHA, CLNC, owner of CenterPoint Consulting, LLC in Eau Claire, WI, has 30 years of clinical and administrative healthcare experience. She consults with plaintiff and defense attorneys on personal injury, medical malpractice, product liability, criminal and nursing home abuse/neglect cases.
P.S. Comment here to congratulate Jacquelyn on her CLNC Success.