SPOKANE, Wash. – Betty M. Anderson, one of the founders of the Washington State University College of Nursing and one of the first inductees into the Washington State Nurses Hall of Fame, died Aug. 13, 2017, at the age of 99.
Anderson worked for WSU from July 1968 to Aug. 1984, when she retired. She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Washington and her Masters in Education from Whitworth College.
Anderson was an innovative leader in nursing administration and education, where she devoted 22 years of service in addition to her staff nursing. A pillar of the nursing community, Betty was a driving force in the development of a baccalaureate nursing program in Spokane.
In the mid-1960s, there were no four-year nursing programs in Eastern Washington. Nurses in the region were educated in diploma programs offered by area hospitals. Anderson was among the visionary nurse leaders from Spokane who knew the bachelor’s degree would become increasingly important in the profession.
Anderson was the Director of Nursing Service & Education at St. Luke’s Hospital in Spokane when she began discussions with others in the nursing profession about the need for additional nursing instruction in the region. She went personally to WSU with Betty Harrington to enlist the support of then-President Glenn Terrell for a baccalaureate nursing program that would allow associate degree and diploma-educated registered nurses to achieve a BSN degree.
They proposed an innovative solution: to create a consortium baccalaureate nursing (BSN) program that would serve Eastern Washington, North Idaho and Western Montana. Betty and her colleague convinced Terrell to accept administrative responsibility for this new program.
Called the Intercollegiate Center for Nursing Education (ICNE), the consortium was the first of its kind in the nation and included Eastern Washington State College (now Eastern Washington University), Fort Wright College of the Holy Names, Washington State University and Whitworth College (now Whitworth University). ICNE became a successful model for consortium colleges and universities nationwide.
The program opened in the summer of 1969 with an inaugural class of 37 BSN students. Attendance grew quickly and by 1973 there were more than 200 junior-level nurses.
Anderson once said, “We were all pioneers back then. And they’re still pioneering today.”
Throughout her tenure as an educator at the ICNE, she provided leadership in sculpting the nursing program’s design, which for many years was the only curriculum of its kind in the United States. Subsequently, she felt the need to devise a program that would enable registered nurses working in Walla Walla, the Tri-Cities, Yakima and Wenatchee to complete course and clinical work for their BSN. Eventually, under her leadership, the Yakima program was expanded to also accept the basic baccalaureate students. Anderson’s futuristic approach to nursing education and expertise in working with colleagues and university officials opened entirely new and innovative opportunities for the rural registered nurse to advance his or her education.
Between her long tenure with St. Luke’s Memorial Hospital as Director of both Nursing Services and Nursing Education, and with the ICNE as Assistant and Associate Dean, Anderson served for two years as Director of Nursing Services and Consultant to Kootenai Memorial Hospital in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where she established a Women’s Auxiliary and Candy Striper program.
For nearly more than five decades, Anderson was an active member of the Washington State Nurses Association, contributing countless hours of work on numerous state level commissions, boards and committees, which included the first WSNA Commission on Nursing Administration, the Committee on Public Relations and Membership and the Committee on Continuing Education. She served as treasurer of the Inland Empire Nurses Association, provided leadership for two terms as president of the Spokane League for Nursing and served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Washington State League for Nursing Education.
Betty was the truest definition of “nurse leader” according to the people who worked with her – kind, caring, strong and principled.