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LNCtips.com: Learning from LNC Mistakes

Nurses dread making mistakes because errors can be deadly in clinical settings.  With legal nurse consulting, there's a little more wiggle room for errors.  In fact, mistakes are the foundation of experience.  The way that we deal with mistakes and failures makes the difference between a successful LNC career and an unsuccessful one.  Here are some tips on what to do (and what not to do) to learn from LNC mistakes.

LNC mistakes come in two types - those that affect potential clients and those that affect actual clients.  Both types of mistakes require you to make business decisions to correct your errors.  If you're new to legal nurse consulting, you're probably not comfortable making these types of business decisions yet.

Some mistakes that affect potential clients are more like bad personal preferences.  I know one legal nurse consultant who used a logo when she first started.  The logo was supposed to look like a stylized version of a phoenix.  Instead, it looked like a stylized version of a vulture.  The LNC really like her logo, but she listened to negative feedback about it and made a business decision.  She changed the logo to look more like a conventional version of a phoenix.  It cost her money to change the logo, as well as her letterhead, business cards, and website, but she received her first client shortly thereafter. 

Other mistakes related to potential clients don't seem like they're mistakes at all.  In fact, some of us make mistakes based on sound principles and/or information obtained from other legal nurse consultants.  For example, I peruse a lot of postings on LinkedIn and listserves from distressed nurses trying to break into the LNC field.  They have dutifully followed the recommendations of their LNC school without results.  When that's the case, it's not helpful for LNCs to beat themselves up.  What IS helpful is to make business decisions.  If attorneys refuse to pay fees because they're too high, lower them.  If direct mailings yield no results, change to web marketing.  If nothing seems to work, hire a marketing or business coach.

Treat mistakes that affect actual clients by making business decisions too.  Don't cry.  Don't get angry.  Don't insist that you're right, even if you feel that you are.  Don't try to explain the reason for the mistake, even if you feel that your explanation is reasonable.  Remember, what seems like an explanation to you sounds like an excuse to your client.  For example, look at these explanations as a client would:

"I had to charge you more than we agreed upon because it took me a lot longer than I thought it would."  (Your clients will think you're cheating them or that you're guilty of poor planning.)

"I wasn't sure how you wanted the work product formatted."  (Your client will wonder why you didn't ask for specifications in advance.)

"I haven't been feeling well for the last month."  (Your clients may take pity on you but will wonder why you didn't tell them earlier, start work on their projects earlier, or why you agreed to the project at all.)

"I can't turn in my summary because my printer ran out of ink and there wasn't any place open where I could buy an ink cartridge."  (Your client will think you're disorganized.)

"I had to work an extra shift at the hospital so I didn't have time to review the case."  (Your clients will think their work isn't as important as the hospital's.)

What should you do when you make a mistake with an actual client?  Think about customer service interactions you've had.  Perhaps you've returned a defective item to the store where you purchased it.  What did you expect from the person accepting the item?  Most likely, you expected an apology and a way to make it right, in this case by exchanging the item or getting a refund.  When you've made a mistake with a client, apologize for the error, in person if possible.  Tell the client that you'll make it right and then proceed to do so by turning in the summary, reviewing the case, correctly formatting the work product, etc.  After you've made it right, learn from your mistakes so that you don't repeat them.  

Legal nurse consulting is new to most RNs and its skills have a big learning curve.  You won't do everything perfectly on the first try.  However, if you learn from your LNC mistakes, you're bound to have a successful legal nurse consulting career

Want to learn more about LNC skills for legal nurse consultants? Check out the Archives.

...Katy Jones