Originally from Arizona, Margarita Prentice, RN obtained her nursing education at St. Joseph’s Hospital School of Nursing in Phoenix. She also attended Phoenix College, Youngstown University in Ohio and the University of Washington.
During her nursing career, Margarita has served in almost every capacity from staff nurse to director of nursing. Margarita was always active in WSNA. As a staff nurse in the emergency room at Valley General Hospital, Margarita was active in organizing a WSNA local unit there and in negotiating the first contract. Margarita served on many WSNA committees and as an ANA delegate for many years. She was elected and served as first vice president of WSNA from 1968 to 1972. After that office, she joined the staff of WSNA as the labor organizer and officer for WSNA.
In 1988, Margarita was elected to the House of Representatives, where she served for 4 years. She was then elected to the State Senate in 1992 and shortly after arriving, was chosen to serve as the Majority Caucus Vice Chair for two years and then two years as Chair of the Financial Institutions, Housing and Insurance Committee. Senator Prentice currently serves as the Chair of the Labor Commerce and Financial Institutions Committee and is a member of the Education Committee and the Transportation Committee.
Margarita holds many community and professional memberships including the American Civil Liberties Union; Amnesty International; Democratic National Committee; Sierra Club; Audubon Society; and the Humane Society of United States.
Through her sponsorship of various health-related bills, Margarita has used her nursing background to make a positive impact on the health of the citizens of Washington State. She has sponsored bills dealing with women’s health, advanced practice, mental health benefits, newborn infant safety, Asian medicine, acupuncture, health insurance, contraceptive health services, health care financing, health care benefits for retirees, infant and child products, breast and cervical cancer, community health center facilities, prescription drug pricing, assistive mobility devices, children and environmental health, family planning services, colorectal cancer detection and recognition of National Nurses Week.
Margarita has worked closely with WSNA as well as other specialty nursing associations to sponsor bills supporting advanced practice nurses. Most recently, Margarita, along with Representative Eileen Cody in the House, was the prime sponsor of Senate Bill 6675 – Mandatory Overtime: Dangerous Practice for Patients and Nurses. This bill was WSNA’s top priority for this legislative session. It eventually passed the Senate and was signed into law by Governor Locke on March 22, 2002.
Well respected by many organizations throughout the state, Margarita has been awarded Legislator of the Year awards by the Retail Association and Mortgage Brokers Association; Washington Health Care Association; Washington State Labor Council; Home Health Care Association; Washington State Dental Hygienists’ Association and, of course, WSNA. The Washington Association of Homes for the Aging awarded Margarita its Distinguished Service Award. The King County Nurse’s Association gave her their “Nurse of the Year Award” and Valley Medical Center named Margarita a “Champion of Health Care.”
It is clear that Margarita has made many significant, positive impacts in various areas of health care, nursing practice and working conditions for nurses. Nurses and the citizens of Washington State truly benefit from Margarita’s leadership and commitment to making a difference.