Lieutenant Governor Visits UW-Green Bay’s Nursing Program

Lt. Gov. Sara Rodriguez joined Secretary-designee of the Department of Wisconsin Workforce Amy Pechacek and State Rep. Kristina Shelton for a campus visit on Monday, Feb. 6 to talk about nursing. In a meeting with Christine Vandenhouten, Director of Nursing Programs, Jenna Liphart-Rhoads, Assistant Professor of Nursing, they discussed the nursing shortage, UW-Green Bay’s nursing programs, and the Workforce Innovation Grant that nursing received in June 2022 (News Release). The grant creates stronger collaboration with academic and health care partners to strengthen the nursing workforce pipeline. Rodriguez, a nurse herself, was excited to hear the early positive outcomes of the grant and meet nursing students in the new prelicensure nursing program. That program will have its first graduates walk across the stage at the upcoming May Commencement. Chancellor Mike Alexander and Provost Kate Burns also met briefly with the Rodriguez during her visit.

Building for Tomorrow, news from Dean Susan Gallagher Lepak

Dear friends and alumni,
Student interest in nursing is at an all-time high but nationally nursing programs struggle to find nursing faculty to teach courses and cover clinical hours at health care settings.

Dean Susan Gallagher Lepak
Dean Susan Gallagher-Lepak, College of Health, Education and Social Welfare

Nursing programs nationwide turned away more than 80,000 qualified applicants in 2020 due to limited nursing faculty and clinical placements at health care settings.

We’re thrilled to have been awarded a grant, titled Expanding Nursing Clinical Instructor Capacity, as part of the Wisconsin Workforce Innovation Grant Program. Gov. Tony Evers shared in announcing the UW-Green Bay award in June that “prioritizing programs that help ensure a strong future for our health care workforce has never been more important.”

The grant has the potential to help the University grow its nursing enrollment and graduate more nurses by employing nurses from Northeast Wisconsin health care organizations as co-clinical instructors.

Your support is critical to supply Wisconsin with more qualified nurses. Let’s build the Nursing Scholarship Fund. Donate today!

Many nurses are interested in teaching but are often reluctant to transition to academia because of lower salaries. The grant provides funding for co-clinical instructors at health care organizations and a nursing faculty, Dr. Jenna Liphart-Rhoads, to coordinate the project and teach nursing courses.

It’s a win-win opportunity. The grant will help UW-Green Bay develop its final year of the program and potentially build future growth. A benefit for health care organizations to share their expert nurses, who must have a Master’s of Science in Nursing to participate, is direct exposure to soon-to-be graduated nurses. Improved communication will be another outcome, with feedback from practicing nurses about aligning clinical content and skills preparation with priorities of health care systems.

The grant began in fall semester with HSHS St. Vincent Hospital and Aurora BayCare Medical Center as initial health care partners. Additional partners will be added throughout the grant, which ends December 31, 2024.

Through this project, a sustainable model for co-clinical instruction will be developed to ensure a strong pipeline of new nurses into the workforce.

Dean Susan Gallagher-Lepak, RN, PhD
College of Health, Education and Social Welfare
Contact: 920-465-2034;

UW-Green Bay a preferred partner of Advocate Aurora

UW-Green Bay has been invited to join the Advocate Aurora Health (AAH) Preferred Partners Program. The program has nine partners. AAH has added two new educational partners, including UW-Green Bay.

This partnership creates opportunities and increases the total tuition reimbursement offered to employees. Full-time employees in a nursing bachelor, masters or doctorate program receive up to $7,200 per academic year for full-time enrollment, or $3,168 per year for part-time.

Nursing & Health Chair’s Report, Fall 2022

Christine Vandenhouten
Christine Vandenhouten is Director of Nursing Programs and Chair of Nursing and Health Studies Department

UW-Green Bay’s newest nursing program is the traditional (four year) BSN program. Started in 2019, the program has adopted an innovative concept-based nursing curriculum.

The first class of prelicensure students (33) will graduate in May and enter the workforce. After the first smaller cohort, 48 students have been admitted as sophomores each year.

Nursing students bring diverse backgrounds and experiences to the program. Students enrolled in the traditional BSN program, for example, are 20 percent students of color, 34 percent PELL eligible, and 50 percent self-identify as first-generation.

UW-Green Bay Nursing Enrollment Fall 2022
137: Pre-nursing
128: Prelicensure BSN
183: RN-BSN Completion
4: Graduate Leadership Certificate
31: Master of Science in Nursing

Thanks to our generous community and alumni, nursing scholarship support is on the rise. This is critical as more than 83 percent of UW-Green Bay students have financial need. Our students are grateful for the help and encouragement.

Christine Vandenhouten
Director of Nursing Programs and Chair of Nursing and Health Studies Department

Wood Hall transformed into high impact learning spaces

UW-Green Bay’s nursing facilities have been in a state of transformation since 2019 as high impact skills labs for the traditional, four-year BSN program have been created. Much of the work now is complete, including a new look for the third floor of Wood Hall on the Green Bay campus.

Nursing assessment lab
The Nursing Skills Center includes three classrooms transformed into lab spaces on the third floor of Wood Hall on the Green Bay campus.

The Aurora BayCare Medical Center Nursing Skills Center includes Room 317, a six-bed skills lab with low to medium fidelity patient simulators where students practice using Electronic Medical Records software and automated medication dispensing system.

Room 324 is equipped with two mock hospital rooms with two-way mirrors for faculty observation of students as they provide care for a simulated patient assignment using two medium fidelity patient simulators.

Room 328 is an eight-station health assessment lab where students learn skills for comprehensive and focused health assessment. Adjacent to the labs is the Cloud Family Digital Learning Lab, where nursing students practice for the NCLEX exam.

Creation of a Home Care Simulation Lab will be the next project. A traditional classroom will be renovated to provide an immersive learning experience that simulates a home setting, and the challenges that carpet, residential furniture and small spaces can present in care.

Hopkinson is new director of MSN Program

Susan Hopkinson started as the new Chair of the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program in June 2022 and is uniquely positioned for this role. She holds a doctorate in Nursing Science from the University of Maryland at Baltimore. She served as Chief of the Center for Nursing Science and Clinical Inquiry (at Tripler Army Medical Center Honolulu, Hawaii, and Womack Army Medical Center Fort Bragg, North Carolina) before starting at UW-Green Bay in August 2021.

Susan Hopkinson
Susan Hopkinson, Chair of Master of Science in Nursing

Her service in the Army spans 27 years, having retired in 2021 as a Colonel. Susan is active in research with publications on military nursing and clinical nursing care, is an associate editor for research in the journal Nursing and Health, and serves as a manuscript reviewer for several others including the American Journal of Nursing, MEDSURG Nursing, and the Journal of Clinical Nursing. She is chair-elect of the program planning committee for the Academy of Medical Surgical Nursing annual national conventions.

The offering of a graduate certificate in nursing leadership has been popular for aspiring and existing health care leaders. Students take four of the MSN courses for the certificate. Students can choose to continue after completion of the certificate for the MSN degree. Learn more about these programs at

Susan is a native of De Pere, Wisconsin, and has lived all across the United States from Virginia to Hawaii, as well as in Germany and Korea. Outside of her career, Susan enjoys scuba diving, martial arts, and spending time with family.

First seniors to graduate with 4-year BSN

UW-Green Bay’s Nursing Department is getting ready to celebrate a major milestone with the Spring 2023 graduation of its first traditional four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) prepared nurses.

As our alumni and friends, you are aware of the University’s track record for offering quality, accredited undergraduate and graduate nursing programs, starting with the BSN Completion program in 1982.

We are proud of the more than 2,600 health care workers who call themselves UW-Green Bay alumni. In May, 33 prelicensure nurses will join the ranks of graduates with our newest degree program.

To celebrate this first class of prelicensure students, we asked what inspired them to study nursing. Here’s a sample of their responses:

Jordan Barnes
Hometown: South Milwaukee
Major(s): Human Development, Nursing
Minor(s): Psychology and German

Nursing student Jordan Barnes
Jordan Barnes is a nursing student at UW-Green Bay and will graduate in Spring 2023.

“When I was very young, my dad was diagnosed with colon cancer that metastasized and caused him to pass away at the mere age of 48 years old. Having three children to raise as a single parent, my mom went to school for nursing to support my sisters and me. Not only did she become a nurse, but she became a hospice nurse because of the impact that my dad’s hospice nurse left on our family. I saw how much comfort my mom was able to provide for these patients and their families and wanted to be able to do the same.” 

Career goals: I am passionate about babies and infants so I would be very interested in pursuing a path in either maternity or NICU, and possibly going back to school to become a nurse midwife. Birthing centers are fascinating so I think it would be awesome to work in that setting eventually.

Karen Gonzalez Alvarez
Hometown: Green Bay
Major: Nursing
Minor: Psychology

Karen Gonzalez Alvarez
Karen Gonzalez Alvarez is a nursing student at UW-Green Bay and will graduate in Spring 2023.

“I have dreamt of being a nurse from a young age. Something that has inspired me to pursue a nursing career is that Green Bay has a fast-growing Hispanic and Latino community. As a minority student, I would like to help ease the language barriers and help minorities have the same access to health care as everyone else. I am passionate about making a positive impact in my community. I will continue serving and caring for others so that I can  help them reach their health goals.”  

Career goals: After graduation I hope to find the perfect place to continue growing as a nurse. While I am unsure of what unit or specialty I would like to work in, I am excited to continue caring for others. My ultimate career goal is to help others become the best version of themselves.

Napho Xiong
Hometown: Green Bay
Major: Nursing

Napho Xiong
Napho Xiong is a nursing student at UW-Green Bay and will graduate in Spring 2023.

“What inspired me to go into nursing is my personal experience with great nurses. When my mom suffered a stroke and my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, the nurses who cared for my parents were absolutely amazing. They showed me how much compassion, empathy, and kindness can impact the quality of care. I hope that one day I will have the same positive impact on my patients and their families.” 

Career goals: My plan after graduation is to work in my hometown as a NICU and/or Pediatric nurse. I am still unsure about what my ultimate career goal is because nursing provides an abundance of different opportunities once becoming a registered nurse.

Brooklyn Simonar
Hometown: Luxemburg
Major: Nursing

Brooklyn Simonar is a nursing student at UW-Green Bay and will graduate in Spring 2023.

“Since I was young, I’ve always had a passion and found my purpose in helping other people. When I started college, I was a psychology major and thought I wanted to be a social worker or a child psychologist. I ruled out nursing as a career for me because I felt I didn’t have the mental strength or the stomach for nursing. But my heart was being pulled in the direction of nursing. I had the opportunity to job shadow my aunt, who is a nurse at Bellin, in January of 2020. I only had to stay for six hours, but I stayed for 10 hours because of how intrigued I was! After that job shadow, I knew nursing was my calling. I got my first CNA job at Aurora in October of 2020 and applied for the nursing program at UW-Green Bay.”

Career goals: I work at Aurora as a Nurse Extern in the Women’s Health Float Pool, where we float to the Labor and Delivery unit, the Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU) Unit, and the Gynecology/ Pediatric unit. My supervisor has worked with me so I can transition into a nurse position in the Women’s Health Float Pool after graduation/ After getting about a year or two of experience, I want to be a travel nurse with these specialties and help people all over the United States and possibly even travel to different countries. My ultimate goal after traveling is to come back to Wisconsin, settle down, and find a job back in Women’s Health and Pediatrics.