About the Author

March 2, 2017, 4:00 PM

I get asked pretty often how I went from nursing to law. I usually start by telling people I chickened out. And that’s partly true.

At the time, I was a single-mother raising two daughters. Being a telemetry nurse put a roof over our heads and food in our mouths, but it was also stressful and exhausting. In fact, when people at my law firm talk about how stressful it is being a lawyer, my reply usually goes something like, “Ha! Try being a nurse!”

I practiced at the height of the nursing shortage, and there was a lot of debate about healthcare policy at the time. But as a nurse, I didn’t feel like I really had a voice in the decision-making, even though I believed (and still do!) that nurses know more about healthcare delivery than any other single group. I, like a lot of nurses, had ideas about improving healthcare, which included, among other things, patient care, but also improving the quality of life for nurses.

I decided I would do whatever it took to develop my voice so I could use it to advocate for nurses; to make sure we weren’t forgotten and that our input was considered when the big decisions were made. I couldn’t think of a better way to develop my voice than to go to law school.

So, I spent the next 4 years completing my Bachelor’s degree, a summer studying for the LSAT, and 3 years in law school studying health law.

While in law school, as soon as I was allowed (there are strict rules about when employers and law students can communicate), I wrote to the recruiting partner at the law firm Kaufman & Canoles and asked him for an interview.

Long story short, I spent the next two summers clerking at the firm and got an offer to join the healthcare team after graduation.

As part of the team, I not only defend nurses and other healthcare providers in malpractice cases, but as part of our risk practice, I get to write and revise policies and procedures for many of our institutional clients. I also get to educate nurses regarding these policies, as well as other issues affecting nursing practice, which I love. One of my favorite parts of conducting training and education is that it gives me the opportunity to engage in with nurses who are still practicing, or as I like to say, who are still in the trenches.

To start an even bigger conversation, I’m launching this blog. It’s designed to facilitate the following 3-way conversation:

1) From me to you, sharing what I’ve learned so far as a healthcare lawyer, because knowledge is power (or at least potential power);

2) From you to me, sharing the issues affecting your lives and practices; and

3) From you to me and with each other, sharing your stories, burning questions, and lessons learned.

Each post is designed to facilitate this 3-way conversation. Each month, I’ll address some lesson I’ve learned in my health law practice, which I’ll distill into practice tips you can use immediately to not only keep you out of trouble, but also to improve your nursing life.

I’ll end each post with a question or request for comment directed toward you. Your comments will help me, and each other, learn from your experience and will also help me identify the issues that really matter to you. Please don’t feel constrained, though, by the question or request presented. I want to hear what’s on your mind, even if you feel it may be off topic.

Believe me, I know how busy you are, but I need to hear your solutions and the problems you’re facing. I’ve designed each post to convey only important and useful information and to convey that information in the briefest way I know how. It only takes an extra minute or two to share your input and expertise, or to present a question or concern you’re facing. I promise I’ll work hard to use your comments and questions to provide answers and solutions that’ll save you far more time than it took for you to provide them.

In fact, it’s my goal to provide you with answers and solutions that will have the greatest positive impact on your life and career.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and to allow me to introduce myself. I hope I get the chance to meet you in person soon. Enjoy the conversation!

Special thanks to Luke Bresnahan, an amazing young associate with K&C, for his help getting this blog launched.

Beth Norton