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.