Helen Kuebel, MSN, RN has consis­tently demon­strated a commit­ment to addressing the needs of under­served popula­tions. Her dedica­tion to reaching out and educating prospec­tive nurses in rural commu­ni­ties will have a lasting impact on health in Washington.

A graduate of the Univer­sity of Michigan with a BSN and The Catholic Univer­sity of America with a Master’s in Nursing, Helen spent more than 20 years at Lower Columbia College expanding and improving the nursing educa­tion program. Starting first as a faculty member, she went on to serve as Dean and Director of Nursing Programs at Lower Columbia. Upon her retire­ment in June of 2011, she was named Dean Emeritus by the Lower Columbia College Board of Trustees.

Her leader­ship and ability to think outside the box resulted in Lower Columbia College’s receipt of several grants that enabled the expan­sion of nursing educa­tion across the state of Washington through distance educa­tion with an emphasis on serving rural and outreach students. By finding innov­a­tive new ways to reach these students, she increased the supply of nurses who will ultimately provide quality nursing care to rural patients and families. This work included devel­op­ment of the Rural Outreach in Nursing Educa­tion program which was recog­nized as a Best Practice’ by Governor Gregoire. This award-winning online program enables students to take courses remotely while completing clinical work at partner facil­i­ties in the state.

Nursing educa­tors and admin­is­tra­tors from other states across the country reach out to Helen, seeking her guidance in their efforts to repli­cate what she has done in their respec­tive nursing programs. She also co-authored a chapter in the book Rural Nurse: Transi­tion to Practice about the rural outreach program.

Helen has shown an amazingly keen sense of innov­a­tive and creative thinking in her tenure at Lower Columbia College. She has served others in a humble manner, never calling atten­tion to her part in the overall success of the nursing program at Lower Columbia College and other programs across Washington State. However, she has still been honored by numerous organi­za­tions for these contri­bu­tions including being named a Friend of Rural Health’ by the Washington Rural Health Association.

During her 20-plus year involve­ment with the Washington State Nurses Associ­a­tion, she has served as Presi­dent of Washington State Nurses Founda­tion and Vice Presi­dent of the WSNA. She has also served two terms as presi­dent of the Council on Nursing Educa­tion in Washington State (CNEWS). Her involve­ment in these organi­za­tions speaks to her passion and commit­ment to ensuring the highest quality nursing educa­tion and practice.

Helen continues to contribute in her work as a consul­tant to the Seattle/​King County Workforce Devel­op­ment Council. She reviews programs, advises and commu­ni­cates best practices for nursing and allied health educa­tion projects involving six commu­nity and technical colleges in the Seattle area.

For her work improving access to educa­tion, and there­fore access to health care, we honor Helen Kuebel. Her leader­ship has been an asset to the nursing profes­sion and her innov­a­tive approach to educa­tion will continue to improve health in Washington, partic­u­larly in rural areas, for years to come.