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Nursing student organizations assist with professional development

Three organizations geared toward nursing students at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh aim to enhance professionalism and engagement in the nursing community.

As one of the country’s top nursing schools, UW Oshkosh is Wisconsin’s second-largest producer of baccalaureate-prepared nurses. A host of opportunities that extend beyond the classroom help to fuel the College of Nursing’s points of pride.

The Oshkosh Student Nurses’ Association (OSNA), American Association for Men in Nursing (AAMN) and Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing Eta Pi Chapter are three organizations available to nursing students at UW Oshkosh.

Each prepares students for their future careers, offering them connections and insight into the nursing field.

OSNA had 565 members during the 2017-2018 academic year. The group won the spirit award for highest attendance at the 2018 Wisconsin Student Nurses’ Association conference.

Oshkosh Student Nurses’ Association (OSNA)

Students involved in OSNA have the opportunity to engage in programs and events that enhance their knowledge and understanding of the nursing profession.

“Our purpose is to contribute to nursing education through programs, activities and College of Nursing (CON) committee involvement,” said Laura Smolinski, faculty adviser and assistant director of the undergraduate traditional program. “We aid in the development of the whole person including nurses’ professional roles and responsibilities for the healthcare of all people.”

The organization is open to interested students, providing members with leadership skills, resume builders and connections after graduation.

“Graduates with experience in our organization, particularly OSNA board members, have insight regarding the important role of nurses as advocates and a voice for relevant committees or boards, and many go on to actively participate as leaders in their agencies, communities and beyond,” Smolinski said.

American Association for Men in Nursing (AAMN)

With a $1,000 grant from Pepsi, Men in Nursing hosted weekly Fresh Fruit Fridays, giving away approximately 2 tons of fruit to students on the UW Oshkosh campus.

Like OSNA, membership in AAMN is open to all. The organization seeks to provide students with skills beyond what they learn in the classroom.

“The main goal of AAMN is to shape practice, education, research and leadership for men in nursing while advancing men’s health,” Assistant Nursing Professor Jason Mott said. “We also strive to partner with other underrepresented groups within the nursing profession to create equality within nursing while promoting leadership.”

After graduation, the leadership skills and connections that students gain from AAMN help to further their careers.

“Our group strives to promote leadership for our members,” Mott said.

“We also provide mentoring opportunities, as we have students from all levels. Students can talk to other students about questions they have about the program. We also participate in volunteer events throughout campus and in the community. Many of our students have gotten jobs based on the connections they have made by being part of the organization.”

Eta Pi

Eta Pi earned the 2017 Sigma Theta Tau Chapter Key award signifying exemplary membership recruitment and retention, publicity and programming, professional development and local, national and international collaboration.

Eta Pi is UW Oshkosh’s chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. Membership is open to nursing students who meet a specific grade-point average and rank in the top 35 percent of their class.

Sigma has more than 130,000 active members in 85 countries, according to its website. This network of members offers students a host of connections in the nursing field before and after graduation.

“Members of Eta Pi are given the opportunity to get involved in the nursing community at a higher level. There is a strong focus on evidence-based practice, research and scholarship,” said Bonnie Nickash, associate professor and faculty adviser of Eta Pi. “It puts them one step ahead of others because they have a network of nursing professionals at their fingertips.”

As a spring 2018 CON graduate, Ashley Utech, of Sheboygan, is thankful for the benefits her membership in Eta Pi offers—even after graduation. She accepted a registered nurse position with Ascension, working at hospitals in Oshkosh and Appleton.

“My ETA Pi membership allows me to stay connected with other members and school faculty,” Utech said. “It is always good to know people in any career field, but especially in nursing. If I decide to go back to school, Eta Pi membership on my resume is a bonus.”