Increasingly, nurses contact me for information on legal nurse consulting. This field is too rich and diverse for a simple explanation, and all I can share is my own journey. As Led Zeppelin said, “yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on”.
I did not hear the term “legal nurse consultant” until 2005. Until then I had been a nurse – ICU, ortho, pediatrics, psych…from that moment forward, Google was my new best friend.
I looked into various programs that purported to turn me into a legal nurse consultant, indeed a wildly successful one. These programs were legion. Some were taught by universities, either in the classroom or online; others were agencies that offered “specialization” in numerous fields of study, and still others were more concerned with the business and marketing of legal nurse consulting. All offered certificates, but not certification. (The only certification recognized by the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants is theirs, and you cannot become certified without 2000 hours of LNC work and passing the AALNC course of study. I have the hours, but not the time for studying…perhaps next year.)
I selected a course, learned a great deal, and acquired an impressive string of initials to add to my RN. I stopped using those when I realized they meant nothing. I read Pat Iyer’s Legal Nurse Consulting Principles and Practice, 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 did the coursework for SANE certification, bought malpractice insurance, and joined too many organizations. The most useful group I joined was the JERKS, because you can never know too many LNC’s, or have too much advice and support.
I bought a color printer, created and printed a brochure; wrote, and constantly re-wrote, a cover letter to send to attorneys along with my c.v. I designed and printed my own business cards, and developed a website (now on my fourth). I switched from Word Perfect to Word and bought chronology software. I mailed ten packets a week for many weeks before someone called me and it was for the one thing I would not do – provide expert testimony.
Eventually, an attorney called me with three controverted workers compensation cases – cardiac, and he wanted me to help him overturn them. This, I could do, and he still uses my services. I found, however, (being a healthy skeptic), that I really love defense work. First nursing home litigation, then numerous premises liability cases, product liability, slip and falls, mold exposures, wrongful deaths, medical malpractice, World Trade Center merit assessments – each case was, and will always be, unique. The learning curve never flattens out.
I developed a profile on LinkedIn, started several groups, carefully built my network, and joined my local AALNC chapter. I presented a webinar on using LinkedIn and overcame some of my loathing of public speaking. I am president of my AALNC chapter, and our Board produced a very successful regional LNC conference in July. I love this path I have chosen, and I hope the journey never ends.