With over 35 years of direct teaching experi­ence, at all levels and with thousands of students, Helen Behan, MN, RN has helped to produce active, compe­tent and caring nurses that continue to serve our commu­ni­ties and advance our profes­sion. Her personal dedica­tion to lifelong learning and service has inspired count­less students to hold these same values.

Helen gradu­ated from the Virginia Mason Diploma School of Nursing in 1951 and went on to complete her BSN at the Univer­sity of Washington in 1953. She later earned her Master’s in Nursing at the Univer­sity of Washington and completed a post-Master’s program in rehabil­i­ta­tion nursing. She began her career as a public health nurse then moved on to deliv­ering direct patient care at Harborview, Boeing and with the Veterans Administration.

Helen worked at the VA until an auto accident prevented her from lifting patients. No longer able to provide bedside care, she knew she had to pursue other pathways. Associate Degree programs were being expanded in Washington State and Helen was invited in 1971 to join the faculty of the new program at Seattle Central Commu­nity College. Using the commu­nity college system to expand access to nursing educa­tion programs was a bold idea at the time and enabled a more diverse popula­tion to receive training. Helen worked hard to help develop curriculum and meet standards for national accreditation.

Seeing the need to help promising students, she began assisting students with tutoring on her own time to help them meet the rigorous require­ments. She has maintained that commit­ment to student success by contin­uing to tutor to this day.

After finding a talent and passion for teaching, she took a teaching position at Everett Commu­nity College in 1973. When nursing moved toward the primary care model, Helen was asked to develop the Career Mobility LPN to RN program. The first class of LPN’s started in the summer of 1983, and every partic­i­pant in the pilot group passed. Helen was asked to repli­cate the program in Alaska, which she was able to success­fully do after spending a year there.

During her career, Helen also spent two years in Oregon serving as the Director of Nursing at Umpqua Commu­nity College where she worked to expand the health­care curriculum and contin­uing educa­tion courses, in partic­ular, assisting LPN’s and former military medics with advanced place­ment courses to complete their RN requirements.

Despite officially retiring in 1993, Helen continues to teach part time at Everett Commu­nity College. She also remains committed to fostering student success, helping English as second language students with their Nursing Assis­tant Certi­fi­ca­tion. Helen also currently serves as a Pastoral Care volun­teer at Provi­dence Hospital, Colby Campus where she provides spiri­tual care and comfort to patients as only she can.

Helen has been a member of WSNA since she became an RN in 1951, over 60 remark­able years. During that time, she has served in numerous leader­ships positions with WSNA, the King County Nurses Associ­a­tion and Snohomish County Nurses Associ­a­tion. She has attended nearly every WSNA Conven­tion and 15 Nurse Legisla­tive Days with her students, including the very first Nurse Legisla­tive Day. She has also been a longtime leader in the American Associ­a­tion of Univer­sity Women, including serving as the Presi­dent from 2009 – 2011.

We honor Helen for expanding the nursing profes­sion to such a diverse number of students from so many different circum­stances and begin­nings and in so many different settings. Helen’s contri­bu­tions are invaluable.