Nurse of 37 years continues education in MSUM master’s program

By Geneva Nodland, Marketing Intern

Diane Erickson has been in the nursing field for 37 years. She began her journey at MSUM in 1980 and has returned several times to continue her education.  

Diane spent her first year of college after high school at MSUM, where she took general courses. In 1983 she went to St. Luke’s School of Nursing to pursue her RN schooling.

“When you’re in nursing for a long time, they preach continuing education,” Diane said, “Things in medicine change all the time.”

To continue her education, she received her credentials of advanced studies in health services administration from the University of Minnesota’s two-year program. Finally, she returned in 2008 to MSUM to get her bachelor’s degree in nursing. She says she chose MSUM because of the wonderful first year she had in 1980.

“MSUM had a feel for me, it was like coming home.”

“MSUM had a feel for me, it was like coming home,” Diane said.

After working in the field for a few years, she returned to MSUM to work toward her master’s degree in nursing. She will graduate in December 2020.

“I went back to learn what I could learn, but I never imagined how helpful it would be. It has made a great difference in my work and made me better at it,” she said.

Diane Erickson sits at writing desk
Diane Erickson

Diane is the quality improvement nurse for clinical software at Ecumen. She mainly works with clinical software and teaches courses on how to use different software types.

“I love how [the master’s program] can fit my schedule. In nursing, it’s been a busy year with COVID-19, so the flexibility and ease are great,” Diane explained, “There are still deadlines and lots of homework, but it is self-driven.” 

The nursing faculty are what make the program stand above others, she says. “They are organized, thorough and easy to talk to. They have great experience in the field, which makes a difference.”

She has connected with one faculty member in particular. Diane and her advisor, Dr. Tracy Wright, have worked on two capstone projects together. The information from Diane’s fall 2019 capstone project was used by Dr. Wright to present a proposed certification for approval for MSUM to offer. The informatics, evidence-based practice & project management strategy (IPEMS) graduate certificate was approved in May 2020, and beginning this fall students can work toward it. In the future, Diane is considering getting that certificate.

“She made me feel like my work was important and valued… and it turned out to be fun,” Diane said.

Before getting her BSN, Diane worked as an RN in a small-town hospital for 29 years. The facility included a clinic, hospital, ER, and outpatient and inpatient therapy department, with a nursing home and assisted living attached. She says her time there was a “plethora of education.”

“One of the things I love most about nursing is that there is such a variety and you meet so many people,” she said, “You learn about everybody’s culture and how it affects their health and well-being.”

Diane is an enthusiastic advocate for MSUM’s nursing education programs. She is excited for the university to offer the on-campus BSN program this fall.

“We know that people who have roots in Fargo-Moorhead or the tri-state area look to stay within their region, so having that as an opportunity for locals is great,” she said.

Diane says MSUM’s nursing curriculum emphasizes what’s important to be a successful nurse: critical thinking skills and personal connections with patients.  

“It’s not as much about changing the dressing, but what you talk about when you are changing the dressing, and that’s where the real fun and passion for nursing comes in,” Diane said.

Selfcare is another point repeated to Diane throughout her courses in the master’s program. Her professors remind students that they can’t take care of people if they haven’t taken care of themselves.

“It is a physically and mentally demanding profession, but there’s no other reward like it.”

“It is a physically and mentally demanding profession, but there’s no other reward like it,” Diane said.

Time management and critical thinking are skills Diane learned at MSUM and what she repeatedly uses throughout her day. She advises new students to master those skills and to figure out their best study style.

“I learned a lot about research and how it affects critical thinking,” she said. “I also gained a lot of confidence in making decisions.”

To learn more about the BSN program, or MSUM’s other nursing programs, go to