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The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh College of Nursing and the College of Nursing Board of Visitors recognized five top Wisconsin nurses and one exceptional nurse leader on April 12 at the 25th anniversary of the Nightingale Award recognition dinner.

New this year, the Nightingale Nurse Leader Award honors nurse leaders in mid-management roles and signifies exceptional leadership, guidance and service in healthcare.

Sara Bell with Brent MacWilliams, left, post-licensure director, College of Nursing; and James Mugan, College of Nursing Board of Visitors.

UW Oshkosh nursing alumna Sara Bell ’98, of ThedaCare, received the Nurse Leader Award, which included a cash prize and original commemorative award. Bell has been a leader within the healthcare profession for more than 20 years, and now serves as ThedaCare’s director of clinical training and education.

Recruitment and retention of nursing at ThedaCare is impacted by Bell’s leadership. In 2017, she guided the development of a new orientation process, nurse residency, mentor program and preceptor development classes as well as education for system-wide clinical practice changes. She serves in a variety of volunteer organizations, including Homeless Connections in Appleton, Feed My Starving Children, Feed America, the United Way of Fox Cities’ Emerging Leaders program, the Salvation Army, Be the Match Registry and countless other local organizations.

The prestigious Nightingale Award for Nursing Practice, named in honor of Florence Nightingale, recognizes some of Wisconsin’s best nurses for excellence in clinical nursing practice. Each recipient received a cash prize and an original commemorative award.

The 2018 award recipients for the Nightingale Award for Excellence in Nursing Practice include: Lacey Chapek, of Our Lady Victory Hospital; Beth Gundrum ’85, of ThedaCare; Jennilee Mann, of Aspirus Medford Hospital; Brooke Mielkie, of SSM Health-Agnesian Healthcare; and Kim Sjoquist of Ascension St. Elizabeth’s Hospital.

Chapek has been in nursing for six years and currently works at Ascension Our Lady Victory Hospital in Stanley. She works extra shifts and is always willing to help when the hospital is in need. She is known for her dedication and compassion for people. She works in all units of the hospital from outpatient surgery to the emergency room, and she exceeds expectations in all areas.

Gundrum serves as a nurse in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center in Appleton and has been in nursing for 32 years. She demonstrates compassion, advocacy, service and leadership in her daily nursing practice. She is an active member of her community and is often found serving others through volunteer work. When not providing bedside care or community service, she spends time researching new evidence-based practices and educating her colleagues.

Mann has been in nursing for more than nine years and works at Aspirus Medford Hospital on both the day-surgery and cancer and infusion services teams. Mann maintains chemo/biotherapy certification and advanced cardiovascular life support certification. She recently graduated from the Aspirus system emerging leaders program. Mann did extensive research on the benefits of BSN versus ADN nurses, and her efforts to promote higher education increased the number of BSN nurses at Aspirus Medford Hospital from 25 percent in 2015 to 32 percent in 2017.

Mielkie is a nurse clinical informatics consultant at Agnesian HealthCare/SSM Health, covering the St. Agnes Hospital, Waupun Memorial Hospital and Ripon Medical Center inpatient units. She has a passion for patient care that is rooted in her 10 years of ICU nursing prior to becoming a clinical informatics consultant.  Mielke works tirelessly to enhance patient workflows by collaborating closely with bedside nurses in addition to a number of multidisciplinary team members.

An excellent mentor for both nursing students and new nurses alike—Sjoquist has been nursing for 33 years and currently works for Ascension St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Appleton. She goes beyond her role as a medical/surgical nurse by educating other staff members about good clinical practice and patient care. She is involved in many  committees, community organizations and other service activities in the area. Sjoquist volunteers her time at Hortonville elementary school, as a Greenville Lioness and with several other volunteer organizations.

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