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Margaret McMahon, a leader in emergency nursing, named keynote of the Nightingale Ceremony

The Nightingale Ceremony is a traditional pinning ceremony for graduating nursing students, reflecting the values and traditions of the profession.

While holding a lit candle to honor the late Florence Nightingale, who made late night, solitary rounds in a Crimean military hospital to care for wounded soldiers by candlelight, all students will recite the Nightingale Pledge, written by the International Council of Nurses, and vow to uphold the integrity of the profession. The burning candle flame symbolizes the human spirit that is at the core of healing both now and back then.

There will be 130 seniors participating in the ceremony on Friday, May 15 at The Springfield Country Club at 12 p.m. The students will graduate from the School of Nursing at Widener University on Saturday, May 16 on Memorial Field at 9:45 a.m.

Margaret McMahon, a national and international leader in emergency nursing, will be the keynote speaker at the ceremony this year. McMahon has a passion for emergency nursing. She has maintained this through serving in a variety of leadership roles in emergency and trauma nursing, as well as a nursing faculty member and journal editor around the country.

McMahon, an advanced practiced nurse, began her career as a graduate from Philadelphia General Hospital. Soon after she enlisted and served as an emergency and critical care nurse in a hospital in South Vietnam.

McMahon then received her bachelor’s in nursing from the University of Pennsylvania. She earned her master’s degree in nursing with a focus on physiological nursing both in emergency and trauma and alcohol and drug abuse. In 2011, she completed a post-master’s family nurse practitioner program.

McMahon has received many awards, including the Danforth Foundation Award, an Army Commendation Medal for service in South Vietnam and several US Army Achievement Medals.

She has been nationally recognized for her excellence in emergency nursing with the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) Judith Keller Award and the ENA Lifetime Achievement Award.

In 2006, McMahon was inducted as a Fellow of the Academy of Emergency Nursing. 

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Widener University is a metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, leadership development and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener is comprised of eight schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate, baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral degrees. The university’s campuses in Chester, Exton and Harrisburg, Pa., and Wilmington, Del., serve some 6,000 students. Widener is proud to be a tobacco-free university. Visit the university’s website,