"After [six] years in nursing, I faced the reality that I was unhappy with the direction of my nursing career," writes Milazzo on her website. "Although I was working as hard as I could, I was moving no farther up the mountain of success. I was losing touch with the fun I'd had when I first started nursing. While I didn't suffer severe burnout like some of my colleagues, every time I visualized working as an R.N. until age 40, 50, or 60, I felt like I was dying a slow death. Worse yet, I thought something was wrong with me for feeling that way."
Many, she soon discovered, shared her woes. And so Milazzo embarked on a journey to change not only her own life but the lives of others as well.
"Otherwise," continues Milazzo, "I could wind up on my deathbed with nothing but regrets."
She began small. She read books about starting a business. She taught consumer health classes for the elderly. Finally, in 1981, her time came. A psych nurse told Milazzo about an experience she had "testifying as an expert witness on a legal case
." After reading through the entire deposition, Milazzo was hooked.
"I was instantly attracted to the relationship between nursing and law, and I knew that any nurse willing to do a bit of trailblazing could make a career consulting
with attorneys. It only made sense that attorneys needed help from consulting experts behind the scenes, not just from testifying experts."
"That very day," Milazzo continues, "I committed to go for it as a legal nurse consultant. Even though I had less than $100 in the bank, I was so energized about creating a new nursing specialty, you'd have thought I'd won the lottery."
One problem: Milazzo didn't know a single attorney.
What she did know, however, was that her six years of experience as a nurse were enough to succeed in this new field. She had learned how to master the "fundamental skills of nursing," how to make "split-second decisions that were the difference between life and death for [her] patients," and how to "climb lots of hills and small mountains." Now, she writes, "I was ready for the big one — owning and operating my own business."
Her first client came through a networking lunch. She called up the attorney, expecting his secretary, and was met instead by his "booming, masculine voice." Milazzo was scared stiff.
"I was definitely not prepared to sell myself at that stage. Somehow I managed to utter, 'I'm Vickie Milazzo. I'm a critical care nurse, and Fran thought I could assist you with your critical care malpractice cases. May I come in and speak with you about my services?'"
While the attorney agreed, it took several persistent additional calls from Milazzo to make the meeting happen. Once it did, she immediately had to sharpen her flexibility skills.
"Right now I don't need a critical care expert witness," said the attorney. "What I do need is a nurse who can do medical research
"I had to be willing to take on any project so that when the attorney got that critical care case, he'd remember me and my work," Milazzo says. But after she quoted him her fee, he was ready to pass her work on to a law clerk. Milazzo had to fight.
"I emphasized why a nurse was far better qualified than a law clerk to help with medical research. My services would be more cost-effective because I knew how to zero in on authoritative and relevant medical resources. I also offered to do the first two cases at a reduced fee. He accepted my offer."
Not only that, but during the middle of the first case, he called and said, "Raise your fee back to the original quote. I had no idea what a nurse could do for me."
She was in. Her confidence skyrocketed. And, she says, "15 months later, through commitment, persistence, and emotional support from my family and friends, I was able to leave hospital nursing and become a full-time independent legal nurse consultant."
Not forgetting the woes of other R.N.s, Milazzo took her experiences and created the "[number-one] bestselling educational program in the industry — the nationally recognized, trademarked Certified Legal Nurse ConsultantCM Certification Program."
"I want you to succeed," Milazzo tells her website's visitors. "That's why I still personally teach every CLNC® 6-Day Certification Seminar and the 40-Hour CLNC® Home-Study Certification Program."
Today, Milazzo is founder and president of Vickie Milazzo Institute, "the...oldest and largest legal nurse consulting training institute and the only publishing company exclusively devoted to this field." She has also authored several books, including Core Curriculum for Legal Nurse Consulting
®, I Am a Successful CLNC
® Success Journal
, and Create Your Own Magic for CLNC
, among others.
Milazzo earned her B.S. in nursing at the University of St. Thomas and her M.S. in nursing at Texas Woman's University. She also earned her J.D. from South Texas College of Law.
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