What kind of nurse do you want to be? A legal what?
Tammie Clark-Heller, RN, BSN, CLNC
With 19 years in the nursing field, I've worn many hats. I began my career in medical-surgical nursing, worked in ophthalmic operating rooms and subacute rehabilitation centers, provided long-term and home care and helped train future generations of nurses as an educator. Nursing is the one profession that I know of where it's possible to pursue many different roles in multiple types of facilities within multiple specialty areas – and that's what I love about it.
But do any of you feel like you still are not sure where your “place” is within this nursing realm? This is exactly where I found myself years into my career, after I had left the bedside to perform management duties. I contemplated becoming an attorney, because of my interest in law, or perhaps going back to get a Masters in Nursing to teach on a collegiate level. At the time I decided against both of these options and took a position for the Pennsylvania state government in the area of medical records auditing. Although I enjoyed the work, something was still missing.
While surfing the web one afternoon, I found some information on legal nurse consulting. I thought, “Wow, this is just what I'm looking for!” But I had doubts about working and speaking with attorneys. How can a nurse possibly help with legal issues? Was this like being a paralegal? The only thing I knew about law was what I saw on Law & Order. I was apprehensive, but soon I found myself with two feet into a certification course on my way to become a legal nurse consultant. I took the course and the exam and passed on my first try. After completing an apprenticeship, I was ready to become a legal nurse consultant without a doubt.
As I write about this experience two years later, I couldn't be more satisfied with the work that I do every day. I am my own boss, I work my own hours, and I make more money now than ever before. Being a legal nurse consultant has changed my life, and I have been able to put to use the many experiences I've had over the last two decades of my nursing career on a daily basis.
As a blogger for The Clinical Advisor I hope give readers a better idea of the different types of services legal nurse consultants provide. This will include differentiating between subcontracting and expert witness work, as well as sharing my experience and expertise from specific cases I've handled. You can also expect to read my commentary on high profile cases, law changes and resources that impact daily practice. I'd like this to be a forum for open discussion, so please feel free to comment on my posts and send me your questions.