A 21st century way to engage alumni
While student-alumni connections are a valuable part of the BNN, the network is not just for practicing nurses. Whether you’re a practicing nurse, retired or pursuing a different profession, the Badger Nurse Network needs your feedback on how your nursing education has helped you in your professional and personal pursuits. Once a Badger Nurse, always a Badger Nurse!
Nursing education depends on partnership. From forging relationships for student clinical placements to establishing connections for students to meet with recruiters for potential employers, partnership is critical to student and alumni success.
However, it is not always clear how alumni can maintain a sense of partnership with the school after they graduate, especially if they have been away from campus for some time. Still, in those years nurses develop insight, expertise, and important health system and community connections that could benefit students and the school.
The challenge for the school was creating a way for nurses to engage, identify what they have to offer, and then share it with students and the school. Fortunately, there was a solution: the Badger Nurse Network.
The School of Nursing launched the Badger Nurse Network in the spring of 2018 to create more opportunities for alumni to partner directly with the school to identify and create professional development and mentoring opportunities, provide job-seeking connections and resources to students and graduates, expand clinical placement sites into new health systems and communities, and potentially open doors to new data collection sites for researchers. The network will also serve as a forum for bigger-picture conversations about subjects like rural healthcare, workforce challenges and nursing leadership.
“We want to open communication lines for feedback and to explore collaboration opportunities,” says Marlee Promisel, alumni relations officer. “We know our alumni have so much to offer our school, our graduates and the profession—no matter how long they have been in or out of practice. We wanted to create a way for them to share their expertise, insight, connections and experience while also learning how the school can best support them and their communities.”
The Board of Visitors alumni engagement committee, with input and support from Dean Linda D. Scott, laid the groundwork for the network and recruited founding members. In particular, Peggy Zimdars, Linda Procci and Mary Behrens reached out to hundreds of alumni for input. Conversations are ongoing, and Zimdars says they continuously uncover new ways for the network to engage alumni to support the school and students. “I don’t think we have recognized all the ways the Badger Nurse Network might benefit the school and alumni,” she says.
Currently, the network has almost 200 members—with graduates from 49 classes, 14 states and three countries—who engage via email, social media and events. Procci was thrilled when the network membership reached triple digits in April, and now she has her sights set even higher. “I would love it if we have 1,000 members in time for the centennial in 2024.”
Michelle Steltzer ’92, MS ’99 is a pediatric nurse practitioner at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and an early Badger Nurse Network recruit. She always considered herself a loyal alum, so when she got the call to join the network, she welcomed the opportunity to engage more formally with the school and to directly support students and new alumni.
Steltzer has already invited a recent graduate to shadow her at work, and she remained in touch afterwards to offer insights into Lurie’s hiring process. Steltzer says she loved helping a new nurse navigate a large and daunting health system, and it made her realize how valuable sharing her experience—individually and through the network—could be to individual students and the entire school.
“I just think it’s important to support people,” Steltzer says. “I think the biggest thing about the network is just allowing those kinds of connections. That is the biggest resource.”