This past week, alumna Karen Daley, M.S. ’04, Ph.D. ’10, was appointed as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. This institute provides children and adults with cancer treatment as well as conducts research into a cure.
“I feel honored to have the opportunity to serve as a Trustee for this outstanding organization and to bring my knowledge, voice, and perspective as an experienced nurse leader to further enhance the safety and quality experience for Dana-Farber patients and staff,” she said.
Daley was elected to serve as a governing trustee, the main charge of which is to oversee management of the organization. Specific duties include attending and participating in Board and committee meetings, overseeing of the care quality at the hospital, approving the organization’s direction, approving of operating and capital budgets, and selecting and evaluating the CEO, she said.
Daley said she hopes that her new position on the Board of Trustees will allow her to assume more leadership positions in the future.
“More importantly, I would hope appointments like mine at Dana Farber might represent an important shift that signals a greater recognition of the value of nursing’s voice and presence in healthcare,” she said.
Daley has been a nurse for 42 years. In 1973, she graduated from a Boston area diploma program.
“I think I considered and chose nursing in high school as one of the limited options presented to female students by guidance counselors at that time,” Daley said.
Even though Daley chose nursing due to the limited options women were afforded at the time, she has enjoyed her work.
“I loved clinical practice because I knew I had the opportunity to impact the quality of a patient’s experience and outcome,” she said. “Since leaving clinical practice in early 1999, I have enjoyed constant learning and growth along with the many leadership opportunities I have experienced.”
In 1998, Daley contracted HIV and Hepatitis C while working in the emergency department at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. She went to discard a used needle and brushed another that was protruding from a sharps box.
“It was a totally life changing experience for me,” she said. “I left clinical practice in order to undergo pretty difficult therapies—the first year of treatment was especially challenging.”
Rather than give in to the challenges of her treatment, Daley embarked on a mission to spread awareness on this issue.
“Once my treatment regimen stabilized, I became engaged in advocating for sharps injury prevention at state and national levels,” she said.
At the time of her infection, she was president of the Massachusetts’ affiliate of the American Nurses Association (ANA). She said she used this experience to raise awareness about the preventable nature of these injuries and secure legislative reforms for protecting other health care workers from similar injuries.
“We certainly have greater access to safety-engineered devices and increased awareness of the preventable nature of these injuries,” she said. “We still have work to do, but we have made significant progress.”
From 2002 to 2010, Daley studied at Boston College in the dual-degree nursing graduate program. Her time at BC, she said, helped her advance her studies and her career pursuits.
“Every facet of my advanced education in nursing at BC broadened my knowledge of scientific inquiry and advanced clinical practice,” she said. “I also believe it helped prepare me to pursue and assume leadership as president of the American Nurses Association.”
Since graduating, Daley has served as ANA president for four years, and has been on the Board of the American Nurses Foundation.
Daley is also a member of a number of advisory boards, including the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, in which she continues to advocate for sharps injury prevention in the state.
After a lifetime full of serving others through her career as a nurse, Daley offered some advice to BC nursing students—she urged students not to be satisfied with the status quo, but to take time to give back.
“Learn to welcome opportunities and accept challenges,” she said. “But to do your best for patients, you must first care for yourself.”
Featured Image by Margaux Eckert / Heights Staff