Alumni Profile: Wendy Howland, Legal Nurse Consultant

Wendie Howland

MN Physiological Nursing from UW in 1982

Now working as a Legal Nurse Consultant, Nurse Life Care Planner

Howland Health Consulting Inc.

Briefly describe your current role:

Independent nurse consultant business. Advise plaintiff and defense attorneys in medical aspects of cases from medical and nursing malpractice, standards of care, liability/accidents, employment law, sports injury, divorce, and others. Assess and provide resources for medical and all other needs related to a catastrophic injury or illness with lifelong consequences, such as brain injury, amputation, spinal cord injury, multiple trauma, catastrophic burns, including medical, therapy, architectural modifications, adaptive technology (communication, environmental controls, community integration), transportation, recreation, levels and places of care, respite, and other needs.

How did you get started in a career in nursing? Walk us through your career journey since then.

Undergrad in nursing at Boston University, 21 years in critical care nursing as staff, management, and education in university and community hospitals.

Wanted MN to increase employability in education; taught students for years and was a clinical specialist in ICE/CCU/OR/ER/PACU. Economy closed my job; took temp job as work comp case manager, learned case management and insurance, got certified in case management and rehabilitation, specializing in catastrophic injury and problem-solving. Asked to assist an insurance company with a life care plan for spinal cord injured teen, took education in LCP, earned cert in that. A few years later a client asked me to explain medical aspects of a legal case; learned about legal nurse consulting, took work in that sector, got certified in that too.

What do you most enjoy about your job?

Being able to work independently, choose my own cases, constant learning about new technology, nursing autonomy, teaching the legal profession what nurses are and can do legally; also edit two nursing journals in legal nurse consulting and nurse life care planning, always learning and collaborating with healthcare team members. I set my own hourly rate and LOVE cashing the checks, too.

How is your current career the same, or different, than what you thought it would be when you began college?

As an undergrad I did a rotation with a nurse practitioner in pediatrics, then a new role, and planned to do that; also did a critical care rotation with a research team. Then I moved right after graduation and got a job in a PACU, and from there it was high-level critical care for years– transplants, critical care transport team, teaching, mentoring, precepting. I thought I’d do that forever, always work in hospitals– that’s really almost all you learn in college, anyway.

Do you have any words of advice for UW students interested in a similar career path?

Nursing is NOT all about “skills”. Most of those “skills” you practice to death in learning lab are tasks, and we teach them to anybody but that doesn’t make them nurses. Nursing gives you real skills like time management, interpersonal relations, critical thinking more than anything, flexibility, teaching, problem-solving. You just don’t see it when you’re an undergrad, but I promise you will in a few years out. It’s good to have a path in mind, but always keep your peripheral vision in play. Always be willing to learn something entirely new. What I do now is a perfect mix of everything I’ve ever done– critical care, case management, rehab, insurance, law, writing and editing… and most of what I do now didn’t even exist when I was an undergrad.

By Dan Poux (He/Him)
Dan Poux (He/Him) Career Coach Dan Poux (He/Him)