Most Certified Legal Nurse Consultants readily admit they can benefit from business advice, but not all advice is good advice. In this blog four CLNC® consultants discuss the worst advice they almost took, the best advice they never took, but wish they had and the best advice they did take.
What’s the worst advice you took or almost took?
“The worst advice was discouraging messages from naysayers. I almost let myself believe them. Those who focus upon the negative and ‘what ifs’ cultivate doubt. Such a focus will hold you back in starting your CLNC business. Instead, reset and recharge. Listen to your nurse-sense and your perseverance will breed small successes, which in turn will nurture greater successes.”
– Suzanne Arragg, RN, BSN, CDONA/LTC, CLNC
“The worst advice I almost took was to not serve as a testifying expert. Early on in my CLNC business I had it in my mind that I was only going to consult. The fear of the unknown was paralyzing me, and I was scared. I only offered my consulting services to attorneys and didn’t highlight my unique selling position (USP) as a high risk labor and delivery (L&D) testifying expert. One late afternoon when I wasn’t expecting it, I received a call from an attorney looking for an L&D nurse to review a case as an expert. I listened to what he had to say and knew I had the expertise to screen the case and assess whether I could support his position. This was a defense case, and I was confident that the nurses involved did not deviate from the standards of care. Months later after my very first deposition as an expert, the attorney who hired me looked me in the eye and said, ‘Wow, you really did a great job.’ This made me feel great and I knew that this wouldn’t be the last time I accepted a case as a testifying expert. I’m so happy that I stepped out of my comfort zone.”
– Dorene Goldstein, RNC, BSN, CLNC
“The worst advice I’ve almost taken has been business advice from my attorney-clients. It’s important for beginner Certified Legal Nurse Consultants to remember while most successful attorneys are business savvy, unless the attorney is the firm founder or a managing partner, they’re not necessarily business experts. Be open to advice, but also trust your own instincts as to what advice you act upon. After all you are the business owner of your legal nurse consulting business.”
– Abigail Stanley, RN, CLCP, MSCC, CLNC
What’s the best advice you never took and wish you had?
“The Institute has always advised to use CLNC subcontractors. In the first year of business, I quickly needed to hire subcontractors as I was still working full time as a director of nursing. I thought, ‘This nurse can write well’ because I viewed her documentation in the clinical record as excellent. I instructed her regarding what the report should comprise and why, explaining what my attorney-client looks for. I also gave her a sample to emulate. The experience proved to be a disaster because she had not been provided the foundational CLNC education. I ended up reviewing the case myself and re-writing the report. The biggest lesson I learned from this huge mistake, and what a beginner CLNC consultant can learn from it, is to listen to the Institute’s advice and don’t make impulsive decisions. We often get overwhelmed by both personal and professional demands and responsibilities. But if we don’t take the time to listen to the advice of those who have been down similar paths, we may trail down the path of futility. Needless to say, I have consistently hired Certified Legal Nurse Consultants for more than 20 years now.”
– Suzanne Arragg
“I took a Pennsylvania case once I ruled out a conflict with the three acute general rehabilitation hospitals whose Medicare claims I appeal in Florida. When the case concluded in favor of the plaintiff (us), and I was paid, I contacted the parent law firm to discuss future cases. Even though we had won against a big medical corporation and our attorney had taken most of my recommendations and run with them, resulting in a big win and a big settlement for the family, he was replaced by another attorney from the parent law firm in the last three weeks of the case. The parent law firm did not offer any further business, and I got so busy with my Medicare appeals facilities, I never went back to this firm. I still recommended that firm for elder abuse cases, but I should have continued contacting them and didn’t. Moral: Always make time for the firms who have hired you before.”
– Camille Joyner, RN, BSN, CCM, CLNC
“I was advised to speak at conferences many times. I allowed my own fear of public speaking to hold me back. I would urge beginner Certified Legal Nurse Consultants to understand you have a knowledge base that attorneys don’t have. Step out of your comfort zones and share your incredible knowledge. Cases will literally fall into your lap after you impress a room full of attorneys with your expertise.”
– Abigail Stanley
What’s the best advice you did take?
“The best advice I’ve received over the years is to stay true to my faith and to myself. Keep your beliefs and passions at the forefront of your personal and professional life. When distractions occur and life happens keep a positive outlook that it’s only temporary and won’t last forever. The doom and gloom approach will not propel you forward. My faith and trust in what I believe (both spiritually and professionally), my commitment to transparency, honesty and ethical practices has been the key to growing my CLNC business.”
– Suzanne Arragg
“The best advice I did take was from the Institute who stressed the importance of knowing when to cut the ties from my hospital job. This happened early on in my legal nurse consulting business. When I had to work at my nursing job (the night shift), I would dread it all day and for a few days before and after. I was holding on to that job because of security and I knew it. I thought I had a solution and decided to cut down my hours and work per diem. My hospital had a policy that in order to work per diem we were required to work four shifts a month. I worked only the required four shifts and continued to grow my CLNC business. I knew that I needed to cut the ties completely. I could now put in as many hours as I wanted in my business because I had the work, and I was making more money as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant than I was at the hospital. My hospital job was actually negatively affecting the growth of my CLNC business. After months of this nonsense, I decided that I would finally take the Institute’s advice and quit my nursing job. This was extremely difficult for me, but I knew I needed to take their advice. As my business grew, I decided that I would go back to the hospital on my own terms, and a few years ago I went back per diem as an L&D nurse because I wanted to, not because I had to. This allows me to still be a testifying expert if the need arises. I love having the flexibility of both owning my CLNC business and working as a bedside nurse.”
– Dorene Goldstein
“The best advice I received was to pay attention to detail. Nothing in the records you review is too unimportant to notice. Sometimes, it’s not what is in the record, but what isn’t, that matters. For example, when an inexperienced Medicare reviewer denies a claim for presumed facts not found in the record, a judge wants to know that fact, since the age-old rule dictates if it’s not in the record, it didn’t happen. The specific details have won us numerus Medicare appeal cases.”
– Camille Joyner
“After years in the hospital working with unprofessional nurses and doctors, I desired the utmost level of professionalism with my legal nursing business. This was until someone I knew informed me that I came across as stiff and unapproachable. Her advice was to be myself. I of course could still be professional, but also needed to gain the attorneys’ trust by letting them get to know me as a person. My advice for those of you wanting to launch or grow your CLNC business – be yourself. Don’t try too hard. Once attorneys get to know you, they will trust you with their cases. If you come off standoffish, you will be mistaken as untrustworthy or insecure.”
– Abigail Stanley
Thanks to Suzanne Arragg, RN, BSN, CDONA/LTC, CLNC, Dorene Goldstein, RNC, BSN, CLNC, Camille Joyner, RN, BSN, CCM, CLNC and Abigail Stanley, RN, CLCP, MSCC, CLNC for sharing the best and worst advice you’ve received.
Success Is Yours,
Vickie Milazzo Institute
P.S. Comment and share the best and worst advice you’ve received.