Begley shares nursing expertise with Nebraska state policymakers
Margaret Begley, BA’90, BSN’91, MS’19, MSN’20, DNP’22, believes great leaders seek out experts in order to make more informed decisions, especially in the realm of public service.
It was a key insight from her fifth, and most recent, degree from Creighton — a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in nursing administration and leadership, which incorporates policy advocacy into its curriculum. The DNP program prepares nurses to engage in policy analysis and advocacy activities to improve health care locally, regionally and beyond.
Begley used her education, as well as clinical nursing experience, to provide testimony to the Nebraska Legislature on efforts to create public health crisis zones and examine the health care workforce shortage in Nebraska.
She worked alongside Nebraska state Sen. Mike McDonnell, her preceptor, a current member of the Nebraska Legislature’s Appropriations Committee. Begley researched issues related to cancer, health care disparities and challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic — pursuing grant support as well as helping determine how best to allocate state and federal funding.
As part of a local debate, which had the potential to negatively impact the community at large, Begley testified in front of the Omaha City Council in support of the Douglas County health director retaining authority to initiate epidemic-related health mandates and orders. A policy was revised in March 2022, which permitted decision-making control to remain with the current health director.
“It was a great victory for the nursing profession, as well as the greater Omaha community, when the vote was counted, and decision ultimately made, to retain local authority with the county health director, Lindsay Huse. She is a highly respected, trusted, valued and competent DNP,” Begley says.
Begley also states she experienced policy decision-making during a unique time in history — one in which the global pandemic caused a major public health crisis leading to challenging decisions regarding public health mandates and relief funding. Issues and instances surrounding worker’s rights, and racial injustice and systemic racism also sparked protests and important dialogue locally and nationally.
“From a leadership and policy perspective, I was lucky to be a participant during this critical time in history,” Begley says. “Within the context of everything that was happening in the world, people became less centered on themselves and more invested in the greater good of all. Leadership efforts took place at every level and people examined how they could positively impact future generations.”
Creighton’s DNP Program
The DNP in nursing administration and leadership program is designed to teach ethical leadership, support creative problem resolution, promote inclusivity and encourage interprofessional collaboration. It is a field of study that incorporates policy advocacy in its curriculum to prepare nurse leaders to think critically and use their expertise in an increasingly complex environment.
“Great leaders have key qualities, and when I think of every influential leader whom I have ever worked with or known, advocacy is definitely one of their essential traits,” she says.
Begley was able to share her nursing expertise with policymakers to help influence statewide and local decisions during an extremely complex and challenging time.
“If you look back through history at everything that’s been done in terms of legislation, you must have people in a position who are not only educated but look out for society at large and focus on the greater good. In my policy experience, I was privileged to be part of that greater movement.”