Would you like to know what it takes to be a legal nurse consultant? The average LNC will be a nurse with a minimum of five, preferably more, years of clinical experience in the hospital/OR/ICU/CCU or nurse case manager arena. This nurse is intelligent, competent, independent, confident, and willing to try something new despite misgivings. S/he can communicate verbally and in writing.
This nurse has a reliable income stream, because it takes a while to get a business up and running. “Don’t quit your day job” is our mantra, unless you are a salaried employee in a law firm. The panic of economic stress can abort an LNC’s career before it has a chance to succeed.
Here are some of the features that characterize the legal nurse consultants that I know:
- You take your work home with you – your home will probably be your office
- You develop marketing skills and become familiar with business sites like Linked In, polish up your resume and think about business cards, marketing brochures, etc.
- You are comfortable with basic software like the suite of Word programs and Adobe Acrobat, and pay strict attention to your email inbox
- You develop a style of analysis and critical thinking that allows you to communicate with your attorney, insurer, or whomever is your client
- You find a niche in which you are comfortable, and make it known that this is where you shine – neonatal, pediatrics, cardiac, wherever
- You offer informed opinions on LinkedIn or Yahoo LNC Exchange groups so that your name becomes familiar
- You distinguish yourself from a paralegal; you do not need to know the letter of the law – your value is in your nursing experience and medical knowledge
- You learn to look beneath the surface of everything
- You do not stop caring about patients, but you are now an advocate for the truth, a fact-finder, a researcher, a communicator of your findings
- You learn to anticipate what the “other” side will use to support their position and identify the weaknesses in your case– you do not allow your attorney to be surprised in a deposition or courtroom
- When you come up against an obstacle, your first inclination is to solve it before asking for help
Being a legal nurse consultant is not the same thing as being a patient advocate. It is finding the medical evidence that supports the truth.
It is about seeing what others miss, and believing in your work product and yourself. Most importantly, it is about learning, because every case is different, research evolves, even standards of care change. No one can assure you of success, but you can be successful if you believe in yourself and are willing to invest the time in preparation. Take advantage of all the free information that is out there, the inexpensive webinars, the textbooks and the conferences. You will never stop learning, and that is the greatest gift of any career.