Casey Blumenthal was raised by a doctor and a nurse, so there was never much question about what field she would end up in. “Healthcare has been part of the fabric of my life forever and ever,” says Casey, who grew up in North Dakota and California. After she earned the BSN at the University of Portland, she started her nursing career in obstetrics in a small hospital in Montana. Eventually, she found her way to management within a home health agency.
“I realized that I wasn’t as cut out for bedside care as I was for administration,” says Casey. She became the agency director of the Flathead County Home Health Agency in Whitefish, Montana. Several years into her career, she pursued the Master of Health Services Administration (MHSA) at St. Joseph’s College—a distance program with a residency in Maine. “The MHSA gave me well-rounded knowledge in areas where I was weak,” she says. Casey graduated in 2000 and was the recipient of the Distinguished Graduate Award.
A Student at Heart
After a decade in her position as director of the home health agency, in 2002, Casey had an opportunity she could not pass up: to become the vice president of MHA…An Association of Montana Health Care Providers (formerly and informally known as the Montana Hospital Association). “This is a membership association, and I am one of the few clinical people here,” she says. After her positive experience in the MHSA program—and with distance education—Casey knew that she wasn’t done with education. “I’ve always wanted to get my doctorate, but I never felt that a Ph.D. made sense for my career path.”
It took time for Casey to find the ideal program. When she learned about American Sentinel’s DNP Executive Leadership program at a conference in 2012, she knew she had found the one. Casey enrolled three months later—and in the time since, she has gained knowledge and depth in her role. “Being in the DNP has helped me understand what our members, many of them nurse leaders, are going through. I’m not a chief nurse executive in the traditional sense, so I brought an entirely different perspective to our cohort.”
Changing Montana’s Nursing Industry
As a Montana nurse leader outside of the hospital setting, Casey is looking out for more than just herself. She is co-lead for the Montana Action Coalition, which carries out the recommendations of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation landmark report, “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health.”
“This is a time to take action in Montana and I’m excited to encourage nurses to further their education and leadership,” she says. The Montana Action Coalition’s home is within the newly formed Montana Center to Advance Health through Nursing. In addition to fostering nurse leadership and academic progression in nursing, Casey and her team are also working to expand nurse residency programs for Montanans.
Casey graduated from American Sentinel in 2014—and says the DNP program was absolutely worthwhile. “I feel like the DNP has made me well-versed in all that is happening in healthcare today,” she says. “I understand my colleagues’ issues better. And I believe I have a broader knowledge base that prepares me to deal with anything that comes my way.”
Inspired by Casey’s story? A DNP with a specialization in executive leadership prepares master’s-educated nurses for leadership roles in the healthcare system. When you acquire new knowledge, you can apply it to nursing practice in ways that enhance patient care and improve outcomes.
American Sentinel University is an innovative, accredited provider of online nursing degrees, including an RN-to BSN program and advanced degree programs that prepare nurses for a specialty in case management, infection control, and executive leadership.