|Margaret (McGehee) O’Donnell ’78|
Margaret (McGehee) O’Donnell could have pursued any number of opportunities with her law degree, but she chooses to stay connected to her health care roots. O’Donnell developed a lifelong affection for the healing ministry of nursing when she attended the University of St. Thomas School of Nursing.
O’Donnell now serves as Corporate Operations Counsel for CHRISTUS Health. She attests the Catholic liberal arts education she earned at UST gave her the clinical foundations, critical thinking skills and confidence to be successful in both nursing and her legal career. She worked as an intensive care unit nurse at St. Joseph Medical Center for seven years. After earning a law degree at South Texas College of Law in 1985, she returned to St. Joseph to work in risk management.
“Health care is a very rewarding profession,” O’Donnell said “When I worked in ICU at St. Joseph, there was a very powerful feeling of being able to really help our patients. In ICU things go better or worse quickly. On a day-to-day basis, you had opportunities to see the impact of your actions. That experience stays with you.”
As the University of St. Thomas looks forward to reopening the School of Nursing, O’Donnell said she believes it is critical for the University to approach nursing from a healing perspective.
“Science classes are essential to learn clinical aspects of the nursing profession, but the liberal arts courses I took at St. Thomas such as philosophy and theology allowed me to look at life and understand what it means for people to be in need when they came to the hospital,” O’Donnell said.
“The hallmark of a faith-based program is to teach nurses to approach health care from the holistic view of the patient,” she said. “Our nursing professors always taught us to care for the person not just treat the disease. Anybody can memorize the sciences, but people who can touch a patient’s heart are the type of caregivers that we need today.”