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The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh chapter of American Association for Men in Nursing won two prestigious awards at the 41st Annual national conference recently in Miami, Fla.

UW Oshkosh received the National Chapter of the Year designation and the American Association for Men in Nursing’s (AAMN) Best School/College in Nursing.

MacWilliams 2015In addition, UW Oshkosh faculty members Bonnie Schmidt and Brent MacWilliams were honored as Luther Christman Fellows; and MacWilliams began his term as national president of AAMN.

“We earned the UWO National Chapter of the Year and AAMN Best Schools for Nursing awards because of the hard work and commitment by the University community: OSA-Oshkosh Student Association, College of Nursing and our Great Lakes Chapter of the American Assembly for Men in Nursing (GLAAMN) student members who have demonstrated what it means to be inclusive professional stewards,” MacWilliams said. “Some of our most active leaders and members are women who want to empower the profession through a new more diverse image.”

UW Oshkosh sent two faculty members–Bonnie Schmidt and MacWilliams–and five students (Lucas Lacrosse, Glenn Malecki, Wes Oren, Chelsea Powers and Stephen Schmidt) to the conference.

Don Anderson, a professor from Curry College School of Nursing, Milton, Mass., evaluated UW Oshkosh’s chapter. He said he couldn’t think of a program more supportive of the mission and goals of AAMN.

“This program and those involved in leadership positions in the college and in the school are exemplary in their commitment,” he said. “This College is creating an inclusive atmosphere for all, creating an environmental climate of acceptance and encouragement and creating a template for success in recruiting, retaining and involving men in nursing. It is an understatement to say that the UW Oshkosh College of Nursing is the model others should aspire to.”

A UW Oshkosh senior nursing student is savoring the University’s impressive showing at the AAMN conference in Miami.

“I found it to be an unexpected bonus for the work our group has done here on campus and on behalf of AAMN,” said Stephen Schmidt, of Brookfield, about the major awards. “A year ago, we thought it would be a stretch to compete with former winners like Duke and UCLA but we set the goal for ourselves to give it our best shot anyway. As time went on and we saw the following and the reputation we were building on campus, it became apparent that our chapter was something special, and that its members had the talent and leadership skills to earn awards of this caliber. Having the support from our advisers and College were an integral part to earning these awards, and I believe that this chapter is on its way to becoming one more point of pride for this College of Nursing to add to its prestigious repertoire.”

Schmidt, who is seeking a bachelor of science in nursing degree, said he stumbled upon nursing when he was about a month away from high school graduation.

“I had always known that I had a passion for working with people, but up to that point I had not found a vocation that felt like a good fit,” he said. “Strangely enough, my guidance counselor suggested nursing to me, and the subsequent conversation was persuasive enough for me to get my nurse assistant certificate to at least pilot the field. It was when I began working as a CNA (certified nursing assistant) that it clicked, this was the right career for me.”

Schmidt said the UW Oshkosh College of Nursing faculty have been equally inspiring role models through strong support of student activities, research and academic success. He called them the “pulse of the school” and what keeps students engaged.

MacWilliams, who will serve a two-year term as president, said AAMN represents more than 1,200 members “which is excellent, considering that men account for less than 7 percent of the nursing workforce.”

MacWilliams said during his term he will focus on men’s health, workforce equity and professional unity. He noted that recently the organization changed its name from American Assembly for Men in Nursing to American Association for Men in Nursing.

The AAMN is intended to provide a framework for nurses as a group to meet, discuss and influence factors which affect men as nurses. It encourages men to become nurses and supports men who are nurses to grow professionally. And it demonstrates the increasing contributions being made by men within the nursing profession.

The mission of AAMN is to shape the practice, education, research and leadership for men in nursing and advance men’s health.

MacWilliams said he personally will tackle the men’s health platform by committing to change his own habits. He challenges other members to take charge of their health.

“My own health has suffered neglect the past 10 years and I am committed to change,” he said, stating he intends to lose 20 pounds and document 200 hours in the gym or outside aerobic activity by Jan. 20, 2017. He will begin a video journal and document the progress monthly.

“Men do not need advice–they need coaches who ‘walk the talk,’” he said.

He challenges AAMN members to design their own health plans. He believes they will lead patients to better health by example.

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