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Patricia Mitchell, RN, BSN, CLNC: From the Hospital to the Legal Arena

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Attorney at Law Magazine First Coast publisher Thomas Brady sat down with columnist Patricia Mitchell, RN, BSN, CLNC to discuss her life and career.

AALM: Tell us what first drew you to your industry.
Mitchell: I had been working in the hospital setting for many years and was looking for a way to use all that knowledge in a new and exciting way. I learned about the field of legal nurse consulting, and thought that this would be the perfect marriage of nursing and medical legal litigation, and an new way to help people. Legal nursing is an extension of critiquing care; something done as a nurse on a daily basis. It is gratifying to help clients figure out the complexities in a case, explain the medicine and for the patients explain what happened, sometimes give closure.

AALM: What compelled you to start your own company?
Mitchell: I started Central Florida Legal Nurse Consultants because I wanted to be the Captain of the Ship so to speak. I wanted to have all the business interactions, products and services to have a personal touch I would be proud of, and the challenge of entrepreneurship was an added bonus.

AALM: How is your company different from its competitors?
Mitchell: Legal Nursing is a direct service to the client, so the culture of the company is very important and reflects whoever is at the helm. We treat our clients as we would want to be treated, just as in the hospital we treated our patients as if they were our family. Its not only a business, but an investment in the relationship, and is founded on trust.

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AALM: How would you describe the culture at your company? The team?
Mitchell: We are passionate about our purpose, producing great work and helping people. The passion is the key, if you truly love what you do, the difference is apparent, then it becomes much more than a job.

AALM: Tell us about one of the most important lessons you learned from a personal or professional mentor.
Mitchell: Communication is key. This is the thing I find is the most lacking in the world today, and the easiest and most important to fix.
How has your field evolved since you first entered it? What’s the biggest positive and negative change?

The advent of the electronic medical record has been a game changer for everyone who does medical case review. It is critical to know how to navigate the records, what should be where, what is missing. On the up side, the records are no longer handwritten for the most part, illegible or difficult to decipher, and there is little need to sift through voluminous paper charts. On the downside, the EMR can be daunting to some folks, and change comes slower, there are still paper people out there.

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AALM: What do you think is the most pressing concern for attorneys when it comes to your field?
Mitchell: I think there are a few big concerns — the first is the need to understand the medicine in a case. Often times this involves an in depth review of the medical record that few have time or background to do effectively.

The second would be finding someone to help whom they can trust and communicate with.

Location of experts can be a problems, particularly for plaintiff attorneys; finding the right expert for the case can be difficult, and more so if the case is regarding an unusual issue.

AALM: What changes do you see on the horizon for your field? How are you and your company preparing to stay ahead of the curve?
Mitchell: The medical field is constantly evolving with new standards of care, treatments, medications etc. This, of course, had upsides and downsides. It is critical to stay abreast of current trends in medicine through ongoing education, to continue the in depth analysis needed as a legal nurse consultant

AALM: What do you most enjoy about working with lawyers?
Mitchell: Lawyers in general are smart, curious people, necessary given the profession. The best ones know what they don’t know and are pro-active to seek answers, ask questions and quick to learn.

AALM: What is one of the biggest challenges you face in your industry? How do you overcome it?
Mitchell: Lack of knowledge about legal nurse consultants, what our role is, the services we provide and the benefits of using a legal nurse. There are still many attorney’s that don’t understand what we do, or how to best utilize our services. Education is the key; articles such as the ones published in Attorney at Law Magazine, explaining what an legal nurse consultant is, and does is valuable. We attend conferences to meet with attorney’s face to face, answer questions and teach about ways we can make the medical end of a case easier to navigate.

AALM: How are you involved in your industry as a whole? In the community?
Mitchell: We are very involved in our professional community, attending one or two conferences annually to network with other practitioners, and stay up to date on trends. We are active in the national organization , the American Association of Legal Nurse consultants (AALNC), and the National Alliance of Legal Nurse Consultants (NALNC). Patty Mitchell, founder , will be President of the local Greater Orlando Chapter of the AALNC for 2019, providing education, networking and resources to the legal nurse community in Central Florida.

AALM: Tell us about your ambitions for your career.
Mitchell: Working as a legal nurse and running Central Florida Legal Nurse Consultants is literally a dream come true. I plan to continue to grow the company and enjoy my clients and my work, as it evolves.

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