Featured Testimonial About Creighton University
At Creighton, we talk about keeping the fire going, and that’s exactly what donors like the Keough family are doing when they support the College of Nursing.
Read a Q&A with Meghan Potthoff about research, health care and the privilege of being able to walk for and with patients and their families.
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By Micah Mertes
A Creighton University professor and alumna with a passion for improving pediatric palliative care has been named the inaugural holder of the first endowed chair intended solely for the College of Nursing.
On May 4, associate professor Meghan Potthoff, BSN'01, PhD, APRN-NP, was installed as the Keough Family Endowed Chair in Nursing, which will continue to advance the discipline of the field through teaching, service, research and professional practice in the Jesuit, Catholic tradition.
Potthoff teaches courses in pediatric nurse practice and research. She is also a nurse practitioner with the pediatric hospitalist group at Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha.
“There couldn’t be a better first person to hold the Keough Family Endowed Chair,” says Catherine Todero, BSN’72, PhD, vice provost of Health Sciences Campuses and dean of the College of Nursing.
“Meghan is an exceptionally knowledgeable and empathetic nurse who cares for the entire patient and their family. As a provider, an educator and a researcher, she is the complete nursing professional.”
Creighton’s 46th endowed chair was created by a gift from Kathy Keough Soto, BSN’75, and Gilbert Soto, BA’72, the Donald and Marilyn Keough Foundation and Michael Keough. The chair honors the memories of Kathy’s parents, Don, BS’49, HON ’82, and Marilyn Keough, and their lifelong commitment to Catholic education.
“My father was very proud of his Creighton degree,” Kathy says. “And I’m extremely proud of my nursing degree from Creighton. We are strong believers in Catholic education, and I’m pleased and grateful to my parents for giving us the wherewithal to do this.”
The impact of the family’s gift, Potthoff says, will reach far beyond her or future chairholders, far beyond the College of Nursing itself.
“At Creighton, we talk about keeping the fire going,” Potthoff says, “and that’s exactly what donors like the Keough family are doing when they support the College of Nursing.
“This is an environment that truly fosters innovative teaching and research, a place that’s training the kinds of professionals and seeking the kinds of solutions that could change the face of health care.”
On the most practical and immediate level, the Keoughs’ gift will allow Potthoff to dedicate more hours to research.
“It’s important for our students to see faculty doing research,” Potthoff says. “It’s important for them to think about things on a larger scale. Because if we don't have people testing new ideas, we won't change the face of health care. If we’ve learned anything in the last few years, it’s that we have to look at new, inventive models.”
Potthoff’s research focuses on ways to improve palliative care for children and their families, and to make better models of care more available throughout the country, particularly in rural areas.
“Over the years, palliative care of children and families has become my passion. Because as a young nurse working the intensive care setting, I was caring for families while their child faced death. In a lot of cases, we were trying to fit these children into an adult model of palliative care, and it just wasn’t working very well. We needed new ideas and better models to fit the needs of the children and their families.”
Potthoff focused her doctoral research on developing an intervention to help parents of children with a life-threatening illness determine their priorities. The result was a card game called Go-Wish Pediatrics.
The card game – which includes about 50 prompts — is intended to work like a lighthouse in a fog, helping parents navigate their feelings, fears and hopes in a profoundly difficult time. The game, Potthoff says, helps parents ask questions they might otherwise have trouble even asking themselves.
Questions like: Should I be worried to leave my child’s bedside? Is it wrong for me to stress about my finances when my child is going through this? How do I even begin to talk about my child’s death?
“I've learned quickly in this field, and as a mother, that this is the last place in the world for judgment,” Potthoff says. “These extreme moments are an opportunity for me to say, ‘I don’t know. I don’t know what I would do in your position. I can just be here and try to help as best I can.’”
With further research into new models of pediatric palliative care, she says, the best she and other health care providers can give will be better than ever.
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Meghan Potthoff, BSN'01, PhD, APRN-NP
Potthoff received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Creighton, her Master of Science with a focus on pediatric acute care from the University of Pennsylvania and her PhD at South Dakota State University.
She started as a Creighton professor in 2007 and shortly after developed curriculum and academic programs in the area of pediatric acute care nursing.
Don, BS’49, HON ’82, and Marilyn Keough
Don Keough was a renowned business leader, serving as the president, chief operating officer and director of the Coca-Cola Company for 12 years. Yet faith and family were the foundations of his and Marilyn’s lives.
Don and Marilyn were the parents of six children. Their daughter, Kathy Keough Soto, BSN’75 — an ex officio member of the College of Nursing Alumni Advisory Board — says her parents would have been pleased to have their names associated with Creighton through the endowed chair.
The Keough Family Endowed Chair stands, Kathy says, as a testament to Don and Marilyn’s lifelong commitment to Catholic education.
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Watch a video about Potthoff and the new endowed chair position