Alumna Profile: Kimberly Olszewski, DNP ‘12

Kimberly Olszewski

Graduation Year
2012
Degree
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

“One of my closest friends from Chatham was from Memphis, and we never got to meet until we had residency. But the classes were so small that you could make those connections, and that was the lifeline for me for success. I’ll do a little shoutout to Dr. Deb Wolf, who I had from the start of the program the whole way through. She was a phenomenal faculty member and mentor, to this day–we’re still doing presentations together. I can’t say enough good things about what she’s done.”

Kimberly Olszewski had owned her own occupational health company since 2000 when she decided to go back for her DNP. “I was looking to get more involved in teaching,” she says. “With the flexibility of being a business owner, I could make that happen—I could go to school, be a teacher, be a practitioner.”

“We had students coming through for clinical rotations, and I am a grad of Bloomsburg University’s nurse practitioner program. The faculty knew me and knew I had a practice; they utilized my site on a regular basis and they said ‘Why don’t you go back to school, we think you’d be a good teacher.’ It really was never in my plans, but finally I said if they’ll accept the DNP as a terminal degree, I’ll do it. They said they would, so I started at Chatham, and by the time I was wrapping things up at Chatham, I had a full-time job offer for a tenure-track position waiting for me. I was a nurse practitioner and an entrepreneur, and that’s what they were looking for, someone to put that flavor into that curriculum. It was a really good fit.”

“I spent a lot of time researching what DNP programs would work for my lifestyle, because I was very busy, and I wanted something I could do full-time,” she continues. “Chatham’s name came to the top of my list; in fact it was my only choice. I liked their curriculum; I liked that I could do it full time, I liked that the cohort was small, and I felt I would get the attention that I needed if I was truly struggling with the technology, since it’s online.”

“One of my closest friends from Chatham was from Memphis, and we never got to meet until we had residency. But the classes were so small that you could make those connections, and that was the lifeline for me for success. I’ll do a little shoutout to Dr. Deb Wolf, who I had from the start of the program the whole way through. She was a phenomenal faculty member and mentor, to this day–we’re still doing presentations together. I can’t say enough good things about what she’s done.”

Olszewski’s capstone project focused on the commercial driver population. “To this day, there is no policy or legislation that says truck drivers need to be screened for obstructive sleep apnea, which puts them at risk of falling asleep behind the wheel, and it’s a matter of public and personal safety,” she says. “My project involved looking at risk factors when they come in for their Department of Transportation physical: whether they had uncontrolled hypertension and a large neck circumference, and I coupled that with a sleepiness scale, and looked to see if I could screen drivers out for being at risk based on those parameters compared to what may have been missed when they come through for a physical. This tool was implemented in our practice, my study was published, and I had two people contact me about using my tool.”

Today Olszewski is an associate professor at Bloomsburg University, where she holds the Endowed Breiner Family Endowed Professorship of Nursing and also serves as the graduate program coordinator and director of DNP and NP programs. Though she sold the company to DISA Global Solutions, Inc., she continues to work there as the director of Client and Medical Provider Services.  “It works, trust me!,” she says. Olszewski will also take over as president of the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses in April 2021. “I’ve been doing occupational medicine for 30 years; it’s really just an amazing honor to be put in that position for two years,” she says.

“I sing the praises of Chatham any chance I get, and I mean that with all sincerity,” she continues. “I’ve referred a lot of people to the program, and I'm actually back at Chatham getting my Telehealth certificate. I just really had a very good experience there. I felt very connected with faculty, I had really good support, and being a non-traditional student going back to be a student again, that’s intimidating. And I think knowing that there are a lot of resources and those smaller classes really was what set Chatham apart for me.”

“Telehealth is the wave of the future,” she goes on. “Our students need to be comfortable with that modality and learn more about it – the legal issues that come along with it as well as the benefits. I want to thread it through my curriculum, and DISA’s very interested in it. We work with customers all over the country. If one of our clients is in a truck in the middle of Wyoming, and there’s no place around, except their phone and they call someone, we could be a resource to that driver remotely. And that’s what interest I have for the population I work in. How we can serve those people who are driving all over or working in a gas field in the middle of Texas with no provider around—that’s what I want to bring to the practice, the ability to reach them.”

“The DNP really gives you the skills for leadership, growth and teamwork within your environment; it helps you stand out and be that leader within your association,” says Olszewski. “It really did springboard a lot of opportunities for me. That credential escalates your presence in a meeting when you walk in and say you’re doctorally prepared. People look highly upon that.”