Nurse Educator Profile – Diane Omdahl, RN, MS
Nursing diploma from the Columbia Hospital School of Nursing
Bachelor’s in nursing from Cardinal Stritch University
Master’s in nursing from Cardinal Stritch University
For Diane Omdahl, nursing had afforded her the opportunity to help people in more ways than patient care. She’s been able to train healthcare providers through her company, Beacon Health Corporation, which provides education, training, and tools for home health agencies and their employers, and has presented more than 300 audio conferences and 100 seminars. She’s also been able to share her Medicare expertise with patients through her latest venture, 65 Incorporated, an online tool that helps seniors better understand their Medicare plan.
Question: What drew you to nursing?
Omdahl: "Growing up in rural Wisconsin in the ’60s, girls who didn’t marry right out of high school had limited career choices — secretary, beautician, teacher, or nurse. I picked nursing because it seemed like the choice that offered the most opportunity. From the age of five, I wanted to be a nurse. My mother told me many times that was a good idea because nurses will always have jobs. They can go back to it after their children are in school."
Question: Why did you continue to pursue advanced degrees in the field? How has that benefited you in your career?
Omdahl: "My high school guidance counselor did not know the difference between the two nursing paths available: a three-year hospital school of nursing and a four-year university program. I saw one year and many dollars and went the three-year route. After graduation, I quickly realized the differences. My nursing education at Columbia Hospital School of Nursing made me a great nurse but a diploma did not offer the advancement opportunities of a degree. My first degree helped me to become a director of a long-term care facility and then a home health agency. My master’s degree was the impetus to start my first business, which my husband and I had for more than 20 years."
Question: What skills have you needed throughout your career, especially as an educator?
Omdahl: "As an educator, I needed the ability to communicate complex concepts in simple and clear language. Because I have dealt with Medicare most of my career, I am constantly researching new laws, regulations, taxes — anything that would affect the industry and industry-related business. I have to stay ahead of the news to provide valuable and sound advice to my colleagues, clients, and friends. As a business owner, it is very important to be well versed and comfortable speaking in front of a crowd. I have presented more than 300 audio conferences and 100 seminars and produced many instructional videos and educational resources for home health aides, registered nurses, and therapists."
Question: What do you enjoy about your work? What challenges, developments or successes keep it exciting to you?
Omdahl: "Simply put, I have become proficient at simplifying complex ideas and regulations and developing a path others can follow. Knowing that I can help individuals make an informed decision about their healthcare is very satisfying. There will be many challenges as I look to the future. Healthcare has been a hot-button issue and has taken center stage in the political debate. It will be interesting to see how the field changes in the coming months as we see full implementation of the Affordable Care Act."
Question: Can you tell me more about your new business, 65 Incorporated – why you decided to launch and what hole you were looking to fill in the healthcare field?
Omdahl: "Throughout my career, I have heard far too many Medicare horror stories to just sit back and continue to watch individuals suffer. I also helped both my parents when Medicare went incredibly bad for them. Medicare is very confusing and I saw a lack of clear, correct, complete, and credible resources available to the public. I thought there had to be an easier way for the 65-plus populations to access information — thus the idea for 65 Incorporated was born.
"65 Incorporated?s initial mission is to provide information to guide 65 year olds through the Medicare enrollment process and then to keep them and their families abreast of everything they need to know about the complex Medicare system.
"The website shares critical Medicare information, providing people 65 and older with the content and clarity they need to make informed life decisions about the future of their health, whether they are working or retired. For example, 65 Incorporated helps seniors and their families save time, money, and frustration with a step-by-step video on utilizing Medicare’s Plan Finder tool and interpreting the results that the tool provides. With this knowledge and information, 65 Incorporated users know how to best utilize the Medicare Plan Finder and what to look for when choosing the right coverage options. Plus, it can help them potentially eliminate thousands of dollars in unnecessary future out-of-pocket payments."
Question: What advice do you have for people just starting their education or their professional career who are considering going into nursing and want to advance?
Omdahl: In the past, the BSN degree was not readily available. Today, several colleges and universities offer the courses required for the BSN qualification. Classes are also offered online. The options are endless!
"There are many benefits of obtaining a BSN degree. The nurse’s role is constantly changing and becoming more involved in community-based primary care delivery. The BSN degree delves deeper into education and training and provides students with management and leadership skills needed to help advance their careers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nurses who hold a BSN degree have a more holistic understanding of the field — meaning they have advanced training in areas including critical thinking and communication. This provides them with a better understanding of disease prevention, risk reduction, and health promotion. Also, a BSN qualification is generally required for those applying for nursing-related jobs in teaching, consulting, or research.
"The BSN opens many doors in terms of career advancement opportunities. With those opened doors comes a greater earning potential for the individuals who take advantage of those opportunities and excel."