"You know what the issues are," Beal says. "You know what the Affordable Care Act is saying, and you're involved in healthcare reform."
Nurses should not only be leaders for legislation and policy in the wider world, but also at work, too. They need to be able to step up to new initiatives, act as formal or informal leaders on a nursing unit, and take chances professionally.
Beal adds that such participation is more than encouraged; it's required. That's because nurses at all levels are more likely to participate in leadership pursuits after school if they've already been exposed to it in school, Beal says.
"You have to require it. They often, early on, don't realize the importance of it," Beal says of nursing students. "You get out of the program, you graduate, you've got the excitement of a brand new job… if you haven't been exposed to it during your formative education, you'll just say, 'I don't have time for this.'"
The Nursing@Simmons program is part of a wider effort to expand Simmons' nursing program beyond New England. The school hopes to cultivate new nurse leaders beyond the traditional campus, which is something that Beal is clearly excited about.
"Our vision for the School of Nursing and Health Sciences is preparing future leaders," Beal says.