Margaret Ouchi, MN, RN is not only remembered by her many years as a nurse, but by the difference she made during those years, stepping into people’s lives and having a lasting impact. Margaret gave so much to her patients, her profession and the nurses in Washington State and beyond. Her passing is significant loss to the many who have know her as a friend, colleague, mentor and teacher.
Margaret attended the University of Washington from 1940 to 1942 and later earned her nursing degree from Saint Mary’s in Rochester, Minnesota. She went on to receive a master’s degree from the University of Washington in 1963.
In 2008, she and her Japanese-American classmates from the University of Washington class of 1942 were awarded honorary degrees in recognition of the untimely interruption of their studies when over 400 Japanese American students were forced to leave school for internment camps during World War II. The degree also recognized the students’ many achievements, both personal and professional, despite this hardship.
Margaret worked for Swedish Hospital and the Seattle-King County Health Department as a young nurse and also served in the U.S. Navy Nurses Corps. In 1964, Margaret began working for the Washington State Nurses Association. As a result of her work and negotiations in Olympia, there were many improvements in salaries, services and professional standing for nurses. In recognition of her distinguished service, the King County Nurses Association named Margaret their Nurse of the Year in 1968.
In 1969 Margaret became the WSNA Director of Government Relations continuing her advocacy for nurses and nursing in Washington. Many of the major legislative and economic advancements that nurses enjoy today are directly due to her tireless efforts in the Halls of the Washington State Legislature in the 1970s. Among the bills passed during her tenure were those providing for collective bargaining by health care employees, amending the Nurse Practice Act, requiring company-sponsored insurance plans to pay for nursing services, authorizing nurses to prescribe legend drugs and requiring continuing education for re-licensing. She was a relentless advocate for patient rights, public health and health care reform.
Governor Dan Evans appointed Margaret to the Washington State Employee Insurance Board in 1974 and again in 1976. She also played a key role in the establishment of PUNCH, the WSNA political action arm, now known as the WSNA-PAC.
Her hard work, knowledge and integrity earned her the respect of colleagues, legislators and government officials. When she retired from the WSNA staff in 1980, she was named a Distinguished Citizen of the State of Washington by Lieutenant Governor Cherberg.
Margaret’s long associations and involvement with the Seattle area, the nursing profession and the Japanese American community fostered many life-long friendships. Many in this room miss her personally, but through her contributions to nurses and nursing, she is truly missed by all of us.