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Leading Care: Senior Meghan Scanlon and state and Villanova chapter of the Student Nurses Association of Pennsylvania

In this interview, senior Meghan Scanlon reflects on her leadership in advancing nursing through service in a pre-professional organization.

She is immediate past-president, Villanova Chapter, Student Nurses’ Association of Pennsylvania (SNAP); immediate past-vice president, SNAP state level.

Senior Meghan Scanlon

How did you rise to this leadership position?    I have been involved with SNAP and NSNA since my Freshman year.  Throughout my college experience, I’ve advanced through the leadership roles in the organizations to get to where I am today.  

Who influenced you?     The main supporter in my SNAP and NSNA endeavors is Dr. Carol Weingarten.  She has served as my mentor since Freshman year, and I am so appreciative of her.  I have also had tremendous guidance from other experienced leaders at the SNAP State level and in NSNA.

Why is it important to you? Why are you enthusiastic about your work in this role?   My leadership roles allow me to guide other nursing students and organize us to impact the profession.  I have been able to write and enact policy, thereby influencing healthcare practice even as a student.  I believe that student nurses have a unique perspective on what can be done differently in the healthcare field, and I work to help give those students a voice.

What are the issues you deal with and what’s the biggest challenge in your area?     My career at Villanova and in these various leadership roles have mainly focused on healthcare policy.  I have authored and published over eight policy documents that have passed at the state and national levels.  These policies focus on areas where I believe healthcare can be improved, such as mental health, care for the older adult population, and gun control.  The policies that were passed have tangible effects in healthcare practice and promotion.

How are you effective in your role? What’s critical to your success in the role?    I work to inspire other students to become passionate about changes they see could be made in healthcare.  I work with them to do research on the subject and formulate policy-related action.  The most critical component for success is that the students feel true passion about the cause they are addressing.
How does innovation fit into your role as leader?   Innovation is essential. Students need to think abstractly about news ideas that can be promoted to enact change.  Technological innovation has been wonderful in allowing us to connect with others from other states to spread our message.

Is there anything you wish you’d done differently on your rise to this position or while in it?     I believe that everything happens for a reason.  Every mistake and every success I have made has led me to who I am today.  I would not change anything about my experience, and I am so grateful for the opportunities I have had.

What’s your advice to someone who wants to be a leader in their area of interest?    For someone who wants to be a nursing leader, you must be willing to work hard, and you must have passion.  Nursing is a physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding profession.  Nursing leaders embrace the profession for everything it is and inspire others to push past what they think they are capable of.  As a leader, you must also push yourself and say yes to opportunities when they come to you.

What is your leadership philosophy?    My leadership philosophy is that every member of the team has equal accountability and deserves equal respect.  When passionate people come together and value each other’s opinions, amazing ideas can be generated.  While there may be a formalized leadership title, every team member plays equally significant roles.

What’s your hope for our profession?    My hope for the nursing profession is that we continue to push further into the public sphere.  Nurses account for over 3 million of the population of the United States.  When we come together and work towards what we believe is right, ethical, and justice, our impact can be resounding.