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Posted 3 months ago
My Journey as a Legal Nurse Consultant
Doing the research
I began nursing career like many of us do. I was a traditional hospital nurse -- ICU, orthopedics, pediatrics, and then an outpatient nurse manager in a large outpatient psychological practice. It was in the latter capacity that I analyzed and summarized medical records in the realm of workers compensation. Although I have long been out of the hospital setting, I keep up with psychological, orthopedic and multiple trauma treatment trends because of these reviews. I have performed more than 5,000 of these summaries and am always struck by how often one physician does not know what the other is doing or prescribing. A chronology is critical to seeing a patient as a whole person rather than an injured body part.
I did not see the term “legal nurse consultant” until 2005 when I came across it on the Internet. I was intrigued and began researching this field that seemed tailor-made for my background.
I examined various LNC training programs; clinical curriculum taught by universities, either in the classroom or online, and other programs more concerned with the business, marketing and legal side of legal nurse consulting. All offered certificates of completion, but not certification in the field. (The AALNC’s certification program is the only one accredited by the American Board of Nursing Specialties. Their certification offers an intensive training course and requires at least five years as an RN, 2,000 hours of LNC work and passing an examination.)
I selected a course that met my needs, learned a great deal, and acquired new initials to add to my signature block. I only used those for a few months before I realized that attorneys cared more about my nursing degree and knowledge of disease. I concurrently read Pat Iyer’s "Legal Nurse Consulting Principles and Practice," "Forensic Nursing," "Nursing Malpractice," and "Business Principles for Legal Nurse Consultants." I read Betty Joos’s "Marketing for the Legal Nurse Consultant," bought a comprehensive handbook of legal terminology, and reviewed changes in nursing standards of care. I also did the coursework for SANE certification, bought malpractice insurance, and joined many organizations. The most useful group I joined was the JERKS, a web-based forum and online community resource of both new and experienced legal nurse consultants.
Always a learning curve
I bought a color printer, created and printed a brochure; wrote, and constantly rewrote, a cover letter to send to attorneys along with my c.v. I designed and printed my business cards, and developed a website (I am now on my fourth, a gift from my son). I switched from Word Perfect to Word and bought chronology software.
I mailed ten packets a week to attorneys for months before an attorney called me with three controverted workers compensation cardiac cases; he wanted help in having them accepted as work-related. (It can be difficult to prove that an illness is related to work if there is no physical injury.) I found that I also enjoyed defense work. First nursing home litigation, then premises liability, product liability, mold exposure, wrongful death, medical malpractice, World Trade Center merit assessments -- each case was, and will always be, unique. The learning curve never flattens.
In early 2009, I developed a profile on LinkedIn, started several groups, carefully built my network, and joined both the National and my local Atlanta AALNC chapter. I learned the value of nurse networking. In 2010 I served as the Program Chair for Atlanta AALNC. In 2011, I presented several webinars and seminars, and slowly overcame my avoidance of public speaking. I was the 2011 president of the Atlanta AALNC chapter. One of the things I most enjoy is helping other nurses find their way and find work as a legal nurse consultant. I love this path I have chosen, and I hope my journey as legal nurse consultant will not end here