BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — In recognition of her commitment to healthcare excellence and nursing education, Illinois Wesleyan’s Director of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences Amber Kujath '97 was named a fellow of the National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses.

Amber Kujath in nursing jacket
Director of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences Amber Kujath '97 was named a fellow of the National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses.

Kujath, who assumed the IWU leadership role in 2023, has been involved in the orthopaedic speciality for more than 20 years, serving as president elect, president, immediate past president and director of the National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses (NAON). She also served in multiple roles as a member of the Orthopedic Nurses Certification Board and gives her time and talent to the Orthopaedic Nursing Journal editorial board.

“I have gained leadership experience through these roles, and much of it related back to recruitment and retention that can be used here at IWU. This has also allowed me to build a strong network of surgeons and medical professionals across the country, who I can connect with students or peers. This fellowship says I have contributed to the field and serves as a way for me to give ideas and stay connected with the organization,” said Kujath.

Receiving the NAON fellow designation is the most distinguished and honorable level of association membership. Honorees must demonstrate outstanding leadership in orthopedic nursing, contribute to the specialty beyond their work environment, and achieve success in the field of orthopedics while advancing the speciality and association. 

In application materials, peers recognized Kujath’s clinical expertise, compassionate patient care, leadership principles, and “a profound understanding of the broader healthcare landscape and a dedication to continuous learning.” 

Kujath has led numerous research studies and published several clinical articles. Her research team was recently selected for the Clara Donahoo & Joseph Dimon Memorial Clinical Legacy Lectureship at NAON’s annual congress. The team presented a study regarding bone health awareness for orthopaedic bedside nurses. The researchers created a survey with a bone fracture risk calculator and questions for nurses about their own bone health, before following up with a weekly email about exercise, diet, medications and bone density scans.

Participants were then asked if this bone health education inspired them to make changes and share more about bone health with their patients and family. 

“We found that 56% said they would change the information they would share with patients after receiving the information on bone health. Now we’re doing a more expansive look at nurses’ personal habits and how it impacts their practice and wider community. As nurses, we have to take care of ourselves in order to provide better care to patients,” she said.

Kujath said her mission as a leader at IWU is to encourage students to “choose their passion and follow it.”

Sticking with a speciality is an important step for nurses, she said, and it requires lifelong learning and professional development. 

“Our students benefit when they see their professors and leaders continuing their education. It’s not something that is naturally built into your career. You have to establish professional commitment,” she said. “You get out more than you put in, but you have to put something in.”