After graduating from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Shane Carter, ’01, began his health care career as an ICU nurse at the hospital now known as Ascension NE Wisconsin – Mercy Campus.
Today, just 20 or so years later, Carter has stepped forward as president of that same facility located just a few miles from his alma mater.
“UW Oshkosh has helped mold me into the person I am today,” said Carter, who was appointed President of Ascension NE Wisconsin – Mercy Campus last November. “It has really helped set the tone of my nursing experience, but more importantly, as a servant leader that leads with compassion and strives for integrity.”
Carter’s journey is one of many University of Wisconsin Oshkosh alumni career success stories that both began and continues in the same city and region where Titans prepare to enter the field.
As he reflected on his journey, Carter acknowledged it wasn’t entirely smooth sailing.
At UWO, he needed and got a wake-up call. While a student in the College of Nursing, he had an influential professor and mentor who called him out on his lackluster academic performance. He remembers that humbling experience.
“I was the typical college student, probably putting education third behind going out with friends and working,“ he said. “I was in ‘Adult Health 1’ with Dr. Sharon Chappy, and she was very honest with me. She said, ‘I don’t know if you’re going to pass this class, I don’t know if you’re ever going to be able to pass boards, I don’t know if you’re ever going to be a nurse.’”
That was the jolt a young Carter needed to settle down.
“That was the final push for me, to buckle down and take this seriously,” he said, “and I performed much better my senior year and here I am today.”
Since graduating with his nursing degree in 2001, Carter has worked as an ICU nurse in the very hospital that he currently helms. More recently he was the vice president and chief nursing officer at Advocate Aurora-Aurora Medical Center in Oshkosh.
He returned to his alma mater for his master’s degree in nursing, even having another class with Chappy, who is now retired as dean of the School of Nursing at Concordia University.
Carter shakes his head and chuckles, noting that he has had professional encounters with his former instructor.
“A part of me always wanted to ask her, ‘Did you believe it or were you just trying to get me over the hump?’ I believe she was just trying to push me and wake me up a bit. Honestly, I don’t know if I’d be here today if it wasn’t for her and the College of Nursing at UW Oshkosh.”
Chappy was gratified to hear of Carter’s tribute to her.
“I am honored to know that a small part of ‘me’ influenced him to use his talents to become the outstanding nurse leader he is today,” she said. “I remember how proud I was to see him graduate and then was even prouder when he entered and finished the master’s program. I knew he was honing his skills to expand his influence. I watched his career develop over the years; what he accomplished was truly because of his own talents and his abilities to gather talent around him. I knew he had it in him. I am honored to have him as a professional colleague.”
Seon Yoon Chung, dean of the College of Nursing, echoed Chappy’s sentiments.
“The fact that Shane Carter rose to the top was not surprising given his vast experience and contribution towards securing access to high quality health care in our community,” Chung said. “I also applaud the UWO College of Nursing faculty and staff, who continues to work tirelessly towards our vision, to nurture scholarly nurse leaders who will revolutionize health care through service, innovation, and excellence in clinical practice. It is the members of the college and our students and alumni who make us who we are.”
Carter, who grew up in Omro, never considered health care as a profession. He grew up loving sports and playing sports. His grandfather, Ed Goss, taught physical education and coached football at Omro High School, where Carter was a starting running back and corner back.
“When I was a little kid, my passion was sports and athletics. I really wanted to be a football coach like my grandfather,” he said.
He started at UW Oshkosh, undecided but wanted to do something with a sports emphasis. While at school, he got a job at a local plasma center, working as a phlebotomist and found that many of his co-workers were nursing students. They urged him to consider the nursing program, and so he did.
“I was in a health care setting at the plasma center, interacting with the donors, the community, and I felt a little bit of the calling to be in that type of service industry,” he said.
He applied for UWO’s nursing program, was accepted and never looked back.
“I’ve been blessed to be part of something special, and that’s health care delivery,” Carter said. “I don’t think there was ever a time growing up, or even in nursing school, in graduate school, that I envisioned myself in a role like I am today as the president of Ascension Mercy Hospital. But now that I am, I will do the best that I can.”