Betty Harrington, RN, BSN, M.Ed, a Montana native, graduated from St. James School of Nursing in Butte prior to her arrival in Spokane in 1954, after serving her country in the US Army Nurse Corps. She joined the staff at Sacred Heart Medical Center and over the next eight years earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing and her Master’s in Education from Gonzaga University.
Washington nursing organizations found an unselfish and dedicated advocate of nursing in Betty and they quickly tapped into her visionary leadership. She served on the WSNA and Inland Empire Nurses Association Board of Directors, as chair of the Board of Nursing, as president of Hospital In-service Trainers, a member of the American Society for Healthcare Education and Training, and the National League for Nursing in the capacity of Survey Visitor for the Department of Diploma Services.
Betty’s role as a nurse educator began in 1956 when she joined the staff of Sacred Heart School of Nursing as an instructor and clinical coordinator. Three years later she became the Associate Director, and in 1961 the Director of the School of Nursing. During that time Betty served as mom, dad, friend, role model, and leader to the students. In 1972, Sister Peter Claver, the administrator of Sacred Heart, recognized Betty’s commitment to quality nursing education and asked her to establish the Department of Educational Services at the Medical Center, when the closure of the nursing school was announced.
A forecaster and initiator of change, Betty was instrumental in the collaborative efforts between the district and state nurses association, and Washington State University in the establishment of the Intercollegiate Center for Nursing Education. Through storms of controversy and times of transition, Betty carried the banner for baccalaureate preparation for nurses.
A founder and board member of the Community Health Education Consortium, Betty was passionate about educating the public about health care services, their availability, and access. In addition, she extended herself by serving on the Pregnancy Care Center and Catholic Charities Board of Directors, and chaired the Holy Names Academy School Board, and the Immaculate Heart Retreat Center. She has served on the Providence Services board and has been co-director for Providence Associates, St. Ignatius Province.
Betty Harrington epitomizes the true heart and caring of nursing and the spirit of service to humankind. It is through her example that we are better able to meet the challenges facing nursing and our society today.