NIU again named top school for men in nursing 

NIU’s School of Nursing has once again been recognized for being a Best School for Men in Nursing by the American Association for Men in Nursing (AAMN).  

The recognition means NIU has made significant efforts to recruit and retain men in nursing, provides men a supportive education environment, and educates faculty, students and the community about the contribution men make to the nursing profession.  

“Your history, consistency, quality, and commitment to creating an inclusive environment for men who are becoming professional nurses is noteworthy. You should be very proud of your work,” stated Bonnie Schmidt, committee chair, AAMN recognition review community. 

The Northern Prairie Alliance (NPA), the local chapter of the AAMN, submitted the successful application for the honor – winning the distinction for the second time, the first being in 2017. 

“This award speaks to the quality of the program and how we cater to everybody. It is encouraging to see that we are having more male students coming to the program, and we can prove that we can take good care of them and turn them out to be very good nurses,” said Cristan Sabio, NIU professor of nursing, and faculty mentor for the NPA. 

Susan Caplan, chair of the NIU School of Nursing said, since the Northern Prairie Alliance was established in 2014, a certain energy and momentum for male nursing student engagement and professional activity has been noticeable.  

“We are immensely proud of them and this award,” Caplan said.  

At NIU, men make up 14 percent of the nursing student population. The NPA, which aims to provide inclusivity for men and others of diversity, was integral in earning the AAMN recognition. 

“The mission is to promote inclusion not just for men, but for diversity, in a female-dominated profession. That is the main mission for the organization,” said Sabio. 

Diego Bustos, a senior nursing student from Woodstock, and president of the Northern Prairie Alliance, said the organization boasts over 150 members, up from its original membership of around 30 people in 2014.  

Bustos said the NPA also worked with former mentor and current Director of Operations for the NIU School of Nursing David Dosier, to complete the AAMN application. Dosier assisted the first time NIU earned the distinction in 2017. The NIU program was evaluated on criteria including number of male graduates and faculty, efforts to support men in nursing, and community involvement.  

NIU met the criteria in several ways including: high male nurse graduation rates; above national average NCLEX pass rates; peer-to-peer mentorship; volunteer efforts such as screening high school athletes for sudden cardiac death factors; and, number of male faculty. 

Included in the AAMN application was a study NIU conducted about male nursing students’ lived experiences: “Perceptions of Male Nursing Students About the Educational Climate for Men in Nursing.”  

The qualitative study interviewed 13 male NIU nursing students. The themes from the results revealed NIU’s nursing program was inclusive with welcoming faculty. However, male nursing students also said they still face barriers to nursing in areas such as in OBGYN, and still encounter patients and others who call them, “male nurses.”   

Senior nursing student, Edgar Del Real, of Palatine, agrees the NIU nursing program is exceptional in its inclusivity.  

“I’ve had a lot of good clinicals – even OBGYN. I was able to have a really good experience,” Del Real said. “The NIU School of Nursing has really moved us forward. The teachers are phenomenal. They really do teach you everything you need to know and teach you in the right way so that you can be successful.” 

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