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Nursing grad earns Wisconsin Nurses Association honors

| Judy Berthiaume

While his interest in health and the human body drew Grant Sklenar to the health care field, his passion for helping people is what convinced him to pursue a career in nursing.

“Nursing uses a holistic model of healing that aims to heal the whole person,” says Grant, who will earn his nursing degree from UW-Eau Claire in December. “In nursing, we don't see the person as a disease or diagnosis, but as a unique individual with unique needs.

“I want a profession where I can build relationships with patients. Nurses constantly strive to heal the patient, rather than cure a disease. When I learned more about the holistic, healing aspect of nursing, that's when I decided it was the right career choice for me.”

Citing Grant’s passion for nursing and his achievements as a student leader, the Wisconsin Nurses Association has awarded the Prairie du Chien native its Future Nursing Leader Award.

Grant will receive the award during UW-Eau Claire’s Nursing Convocation event, following the morning commencement ceremony Dec. 16.

“While this award really is an honor to receive, I find it more humbling that I had instructors who believed in me enough to nominate me,” Grant says. “Additionally, I have worked with so many amazing people throughout my time in the nursing program, and each and every one of them has helped shape who I am today. So while this award is definitely an honor, I owe so much of it to those who supported me during my time in the nursing program.”

Grant gained leadership experience while serving on the board of the Eau Claire Student Nurses Association, including a yearlong term as the student organization’s president.

Through his work with ECSNA, he had opportunities to better understand the policy side of nursing.

“While many assume all nurses work in clinics or hospitals, many nurses also work in offices and government facilities, working to improve nursing standards of practice and quality improvement measures,” Grant says. “By serving on this board, I was able to experience this side of nursing as well.”

The strength of UW-Eau Claire’s nursing program is the many opportunities students have to learn and gain experiences within and outside the classrooms, Grant says.

A clinical at a Twin Cities hospital is another example of a hands-on learning opportunity that helped him gain skills as well as a better understanding of professional opportunities within the nursing field, he says.

“The highlight of my nursing education was having a pediatric clinical at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul,” Grant says. “The previous summer, I had worked as a camp counselor at a camp that serves individuals with disabilities and complex health care needs. I absolutely loved working with this patient population, but I didn't know how to combine it with my love of nursing.

“When I arrived at Gillette, I quickly learned that this hospital specifically treats children with disabilities and complex health care needs. It was an amazing experience and I loved every moment of it.”

After graduation, Grant will work on the orthopedic unit at Regions Hospital in St. Paul.

“While I eventually would like to work with individuals with disabilities, this opportunity will provide a great amount of learning and experience that will aid me in my career,” Grant says.

Given the high demand for nurses and the many diverse opportunities available within the nursing field, Grant says he is glad to see more men entering the profession.

“The stereotypes and views that men should not be nurses are mostly behind us,” Grant says. “I'm just excited to join such a respected and beautiful profession.”

While he is looking forward to the start of his nursing career, Grant says he will have mixed feelings as he walks across the stage in Zorn Arena during his commencement.

“I have loved being a student at UWEC,” Grant says. “It is everything that I'd hoped for in my college experience, and so much more. People keep asking me if I'm excited to be done, and while I am ready to move on to my career, it will be very hard to say goodbye to my home of the last few years. To any students who are reading this: Enjoy every moment of your time here and cherish the friends that you share each of those moments with because you find that they quickly become family.”

Photo caption: While his interest in health and the human body drew Grant Sklenar to the health care field, his passion for helping people is what convinced him to pursue a career in nursing.