1. Nursing improved my communication skills. During my four years as a nurse, I assessed patients (asked the right questions and listened closely to the answers) and explained complex medical options. Likewise, as an elder law and estate planning attorney, I listen closely, explain legal options in simple terms, and recommend legal strategies to address each client’s concerns.
2. As a nurse, you learn crisis intervention skills (this was especially true for me as I worked as an intensive care nurse where patients and their families are facing a crisis). Likewise, my elder law and estate planning clients often are facing a crisis. For example, they or their spouse may be terminally ill, diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, in need of at-home care, or admitted to a nursing home. Knowing how to advise individuals facing the more challenging days of their lives enables me as an elder law attorney.
3. With an elder law and estate planning nurse-attorney, you typically not only get an attorney who is above average (former nurses who now are elder law and estate planning attorneys, in my opinion, as a group are above average as evidence by how many of us graduated from law school with honors, have more than one graduate degree and/or are certified in the areas of estate planning and/or elder law), but often also an attorney who deep down inside wants to help people. That “want to help” trait is crucial when working with elders.
4. As a result of my nursing background, I typically am able to effortlessly comprehend my client’s medical and long-term care issues and I am familiar with end-of-life issues. Even with clients who have unusual medical conditions, I more often than not am able to envision the quality of their day-to-day lives, whether their condition is terminal or whether it is realistic to plan for a nursing home discharge. Understanding my client’s medical issues enables me as an elder law and estate planning attorney.