Faculty Feature: Peggy Flannigan

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Peggy Flannigan
Associate Chair & Associate Professor of Nursing

Ph.D., Nursing, University of Illinois, Chicago
M.S., Nursing, University of Illinois College of Nursing at Peoria
BSN, Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing

Dr. Peggy Flannigan teaches Legal and Ethical Issues in Nursing. She has also taught courses in Nursing Research and Nursing Education to graduate students. In addition, she has guided multiple graduate student research projects. At the undergraduate level, she has taught research and both medical surgical and leadership theory and practicum courses for students in their senior year.

Dr. Flannigan joined the Bradley faculty in 1996. Prior to that time she was employed in a variety of settings, including acute care, neuro rehabilitation, and physicians’ offices, and she served as a nursing education administrator. Dr. Flannigan has recently been involved in planning courses for online education and enjoys using a variety of methods in the classroom ranging from the traditional lecture to interactive learning via seminar/discussion and group activities.

What are you currently most passionate about in terms of your work or research?

Honestly, I’m just trying to make my classes the best they can be. I want students to be challenged without feeling overwhelmed. I want them to understand that learning takes many forms and that although a class may not have exams or papers, it is one that should be taken seriously, but with enjoyment.

Can you elaborate on your research in return-to-play decisions following brain trauma in an athlete?
I was a co-primary investigator on a study of Return-to-play decisions following mild traumatic brain injury in athletes. My co-primary investigator was a local neurosurgeon and our team included a neurologist, a clinical physicist, several neurosurgical residents, and a couple of other nurse faculty. Our initial study had a fairly unique design that included an array of baseline studies such as a neurological exam, ImPACT test, and functional MRI. Rarely do studies include baseline MRI with college soccer players. When we eventually expanded the study to include high school athletes from several sports, we were no longer able to do the baseline MRI as it was nearly impossible to perform MRI exams on every area athlete. However, we were able to follow the initial post injury exams on about a dozen athletes for approximately a month. Results of our research were presented by the physicist member of our team at RSNA Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting in 2016.

Can you tell me more about your work with Walk the Mind?

Mark Linder Walk for the Mind has been my personal passion for 15 years, since the very first Walk in 2003. I went to the Walk for the Mind that year as a “One Year Survivor” of a brain tumor. I had been looking for someone who could relate to my experience and I left the Walk having met a dozen survivors who had been down that same path. I joined the Walk for the Mind committee so I could help with the second annual Walk and I became good friends with Mark Linder. Mark’s tumor recurred in 2005 and he passed away a few weeks after the Walk in 2005. I became chairperson of the Walk and have proudly seen it grow steadily since it began. In 2003 there were around 150 – 200 walkers who raised $12,000 for brain tumor research. This year, there were over 900 walkers who raised a record-breaking amount (still no final $).
My entire family is involved in the Walk and even co-workers have signed on as volunteers. The Walk is a special day that is difficult to explain. Once you attend, you understand how important it is to the survivors and their families. However, it is important to those who have lost a loved one as well. Many continue to support the mission of the Walk as they recognize the importance of funding research in hopes that a cure will be found. This year was the 6th year we have donated our proceeds to the brain tumor research program at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Peoria. The research team there is led by Dr. Kiran Velpula and Dr. Andrew Tsung. Both men are involved in the Walk and attend every year unless work keeps them away. Dr. Velpula has acknowledged the support of the Mark Linder Walk for the Mind in his research presentations and publications. I will be so excited when some day, I can say that we have donated $1 million to brain tumor research!

What excites you most about your teaching?
I’m not sure that I would say this excites me as much as it give me pleasure when I feel that I truly have made a difference in a student’s education. I like to have the opportunity to “visit” with my students whether it’s in person, email, or phone and feel like I really get to know them and understand where they are in their lives both professionally and academically. I believe it helps me to guide their progress in my class better. When a student tells me that he or she hopes to have an opportunity to take a class with me again, I feel that I must have made an impact in some positive way.