Awards and Achievements

Deborah Marks Conley honored with DAISY Lifetime Achievement Award

Published: May 16, 2024
Deborah Conley DAISY Lifetime Achievement Award

Deborah Marks Conley, MSN, APRN-CNS, GCNS-BC, FNGNA, CDP, traces her passion for gerontological nursing to time spent with her maternal grandmother.

“Growing up, I was very, very close to her,” said Conley, gerontological clinical nurse specialist and service executive for geriatrics at Methodist Hospital. “She was always telling stories, and she really showed me the value of the wisdom that older adults have – and the sometimes lack of respect they receive, especially 50 some odd years ago. So I made it my life’s passion to focus on the positive aspects of aging and teach and mentor nursing staff and providers about the value of older adults.”

In April, Conley was honored for her decades of distinguished work with the hospital’s first DAISY Lifetime Achievement Award. Over 5,400 organizations worldwide work with The DAISY Foundation to recognize deserving nurses with DAISY Awards for their extraordinary care, and the lifetime award honors those who have excelled throughout their career.

In her 23 years at Methodist Health System, she has been a relentless force in shaping geriatric and senior care services. Among the accomplishments on her lengthy resume:

  • Developing gerontological nursing curriculum at Nebraska Methodist College (NMC)
  • Methodist Hospital implementing six major geriatrics models of care, including Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders (NICHE), the Hospital Elder Life Program and the Acute Care for Elders Unit
  • Methodist Hospital implementing the geriatric resource nurse model
  • Methodist Hospital and Methodist Women’s Hospital achieving Geriatric Emergency Department Accreditation (GEDA)
  • All four Methodist Health System hospitals being named John A. Hartford Foundation Age-Friendly facilities
  • Methodist Hospital achieving five successful American Nurses Credentialing Center Magnet designations 

“Methodist has a proud tradition of teamwork, and it takes everyone working together to support implementing these various models of care,” said Conley, whose career spans 48 years. “Without hospital and health system leadership and staff support, this work wouldn’t be possible.”

Conley is especially passionate about mentoring the next generation of nurses, and her collaboration with NMC to bring the AgeWISE geropalliative care specialty nurse residency program to Methodist is among her proudest achievements.

“I say that because I get to work with staff nurses from all over the health system – Methodist Fremont Health, Jennie Edmundson, Dunklau Gardens and Fremont home health, too,” she said. “The best part about that is really sharing best practices with nurses who can go back and implement it, then come back to class and talk about how it goes. I really think that’s where I keep the pulse of what the bedside nurse is going through and what they need. I love working with those nurses because they teach me so much.”

With Conley’s help, Methodist Health System has become a national leader in AgeWISE, with over 325 nurses graduating since 2010 – which is greater than any of the original participating hospitals.

As Conley approaches retirement in June, she's especially thankful to her mentors over the years. She expressed gratitude to Jane Potter, MD, a geriatrician at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, and Teri Bruening, MSN, RN, GERO-BC, NEA-BC, vice president of Patient Care Services and chief nursing officer for Methodist Hospital and Methodist Women’s Hospital.

Conley is also excited to see where the next generation of nurses will take gerontological care. 

“Unless you’re in pediatrics, the majority of nursing practice today will involve taking care of older adults,” she said.

And she has some words of wisdom for those nurses:

“You’re going to have lots of laughs, and you’re going to have sad times. Those 80-, 90- and 100-year-olds are just like you and I, but they have a wealth of knowledge to share. Listen and learn from them.  They’re moving toward the end of their life, but the opportunity to be in their presence is a real gift.”