b'LEADERSHIP GUIDE|The Essential Nature ofContinuing EducationHow can healthcare professionals benefit from lifelong learning?By Rob SeniorC urrently, Julie Olson, DNP, MS, RN, CQIA, works for NavitusHOW DID THAT CONCENTRATION CHANGE YOUR CAREER FOCUS?Health Solutions, headquartered in Madison, WI. Olson: I went from caring for individuals face-to-face to a population But her journey to her current position has been filledhealth role, where I would care for groups of peoplewomen, infants, with twists and turns. Julie graduated from University of Wisconsinand children through the WIC program, and other populations as (UW)-Eau Claire with her bachelors degree, before heading off towell. During this time, I also became involved politically active. I was UW-Madison for her masters degree, and finally receiving a doctor- fortunate to complete an internship with one of Wisconsins state ate from Marquette University in Milwaukee. senators, Judy Robson, who also happens to be a nurse.With her experiences in healthcare spanning three differ- For me, that was an incredible learning experience about the ent degree programs, a seat on the Wisconsin Nurses Associationimpact of policy on public health. I was fortunate enough to be board of Directors, plus her current position as Senior Director ofpart of a large tobacco settlement in the state of Wisconsin, which Population Health at Navitus, its easy to see Julies willingand ableallowed us to create a number of public health programs. to try anything in her career. We spoke with her about the impor-tance of seeking new challenges through lifelong learning in her cho- HOW HAVE YOUR LEARNING EXPERIENCES SHAPED YOUR sen profession. OUTLOOK ON YOUR CAREER?Olson: As a younger nurse, I remember I often viewed things in black AFTER COMPLETING NURSING SCHOOL, WHAT EXPERIENCESand white. One of the benefits of education has been my increased LED YOU TO RETURN TO SCHOOL FOR FURTHER EDUCATION? ability to see all the shades of gray. Theres not always one right Olson: Ive always been a natural caregiver, so nursing was a callinganswer to a problem, and lifelong learning has allowed me to look for me. While working as a staff nurse, I began to see some systemsat issueshealthcare, policy, all types of complex problemsfrom issuespolicies that werent in the best interest of patients or staff.a multitude of different angles. I like to think thats led me to make So from the beginning, I found myself involved in shaping policy,better decisions.trying to shape the improvement of patient care. My hope is that through my education, Ive been able to impact Once I had those experiences, I began to realize there was a higherfuture nurses, leaders, and decision makers. Education exposes you level to healthcarepolicies and costs influence healthcare, and some- to new and different ways of thinking. The more you know, the more times we create systems that are not in the best interest of patient care.you realize you dont know. So Im very open to healthy debate of It made me want to learn more and refine my ability to shape sys- topics; the sharing of ideas and learning that which others know tem-level decisions. Thats what got me to go back for my masters pro- about a topic. I think education has played an important role in cre-ISTOCKgrammy degree is in community health and nursing administration. ating my openness to debate and accepting new ideas.24 LEADERSHIP GUIDE|2020| www.elitecme.com'