Deafblind convention speaker wins book award

September 21, 2022

Elsa Sjunneson on a mission to end ableism

Elsa Sjunneson, a keynote speaker at the May 2023 Washington State Nurses Convention, is one of eight winners for the 2022 Washington State Book Awards.

Sjunneson won in the category best memoir/biography for her book, Being Seen: One Deafblind Woman’s Fight to End Ableism.

Sjunneson was born with congenital rubella syndrome or CRS, resulting in multiple disabilities, including sight and hearing loss. She has a prosthetic eye and partial vision in the other, and she wears bilateral hearing aids. She cannot see well enough without a guide dog or cane, but she can see people react to her disability and often hears what they say.

Described as a “deafblind hurricane in a vintage dress,” Sjunneson’s book describes her experience at the crossroads of vision and sight, and how the misrepresentation of disability in popular culture harms us all.

At the May 17-19 Washington State Nurses Convention, she will address ending ableism against people with disabilities in the healthcare system.

Sjunneson, the subject of a 2019 PBS American Masters Short Documentary, said she wakes up every day with “a burning fire in my chest” to break stereotypes trying to define her.

She is a fencer, hiker, swing dancer, and speculative fiction writer who calls herself loud, snarky, and sarcastic.

Sjunneson is also an internationally published author on the subject of disability and ableism. As a deafblind activist she has worked to dismantle structural ableism. As an author, she has put a torchlight on disability stereotypes. She wrote a series of essays for on how blindness is represented in movies and television shows. She wrote an opinion piece in CNN before the pandemic (2019) on her message to anti-vaxxers. Her mother was exposed to German measles when she was pregnant with Sjunneson in 1985, which led to CRS. She said her mother didn’t know she needed an MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) booster like is widely known today.

She has written guest essays in Metro UK and New York Times on how the world has wrongly portrayed Helen Keller as a fraud and a disability angel. She reported for RadioLab on the “Helen Keller exorcism,” and she contributed a story in Women of Marvel #1 among other projects.

She is also a game designer and writes about inclusive game design.

Her book, Being Seen ,was one of 243 submissions for the 2022 Washington State Book Awards. The finalists, announced Sept. 9., were selected by members of The Washington Center for the Book and The Seattle Public Library.

Sjunneson’s has a master’s degree in women’s literature from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y. Her website is at

Perinatal patients, nurses explain how hospital pandemic policies failed them; PNHCC Researcher award winner Molly Altman is lead author on study

April 8, 2021

Molly Altman, recipient of the Researcher award from the Profes­sional Nursing and Health Care Council (PNHCC), is lead author on a new University of Washington (UW) study that explores how changes to hospital policies and procedures during the pandemic had negative outcomes for maternity patients and nurses.

“We found that visitor restrictions and separation policies were harming families and nurses," said Altman, an assistant professor in the UW School of Nursing. "The effects for patients included loneliness, isolation and mistrust, while nurses described mistrust and low morale."

Learn more on the UW website.

Please support scholarships and Nurses Emergency Assistance grants

January 21, 2021

In previous years, the Washington State Nurses Foundation (WSNF) has held a virtual auction during WSNA’s biennial Washington State Nurses Convention. Because the 2021 Convention will now be held virtually, the tough decision was made to cancel this year’s auction. We hope that this year, instead of bidding on auction items, you’ll consider donating directly to two important funds that directly support nurses.

It’s never been clearer how important nurses are for our community. We do our best to keep others safe and healthy every single day, but sometimes, we need help, too.

Education grants and scholarships

An important focus of WSNF is the provision of student scholarships, which is critical to the future of nursing in Washington state. While the nursing workforce is aging, the cost to attend nursing programs continues to rise. Between 2008 and 2018, tuition and fees at community and technical colleges increased approximately 45%, while tuition and fees at four-year colleges and universities rose approximately 65%. This presents a significant barrier to prospective students seeking a career in nursing.

In 2020, WSNF received 38 scholarship applications and funded scholarships for 12 students totaling $25,000. However, we know there are many more nursing students in Washington state who need financial assistance, and we ask that you consider helping them get that much closer to achieving their educational goals.

Nurses Emergency Assistance Grant Fund

Everyone can make a difference for the nurses who are fighting on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, and for all nurses who work to support our communities every day. One way WSNF supports frontline workers is through its Nurses Emergency Assistance Grant Fund, which provides financial assistance to nurses in need. While nurses in areas like critical care are putting in long hours on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, nurses in other areas of hospitals are facing cuts in hours, furloughs and layoffs.

Since the pandemic began, WSNF has distributed $32,000 in emergency financial assistance to nurses in need. But the need is still great.

  • If you are able to help a colleague, please consider donating to the Nurses Emergency Assistance Grant Fund at

Nominations are now open for 2021 nursing awards

September 22, 2020

The WSNA Awards Committee and the Professional Nursing and Health Care Council are seeking outstanding WSNA members as nominees for the 2021 WSNA Recognition Awards. Nominations must be received at WSNA no later than Feb. 28, 2021.

  • The awardees will be notified in March 2021. The awards, given every two years, will be presented at a special awards reception at the 2021 Washington State Nurses Convention.
  • Nominations must be accompanied with a narrative from the nominator, listing the nominee’s credentials and achievements, and a copy of the nominee’s curriculum vitae / resume.

Nominate someone today!

WSNA Award Categories

Honorary Recognition Award

In alignment with WSNA goals, nurses in Washington state will be informed on issues and trends that affect their professional practice. This award may be conferred at any Convention upon persons who have made significant contributions, rendered distinguished service or valuable assistance to the nursing profession, the name or names having been recommended by the Board of Directors. Honorary Recognition shall not be conferred on more than two persons at any Convention.

The nominee must be a WSNA member who:

  1. has actively contributed by having held elected/appointed state, district or local unit office
  2. has been a consumer advocate and/or interpreted the role of nursing to consumers

Marguerite Cobb Public Health / Community Health Nurse Award

In alignment with WSNA goals, nurses will lead the profession wherever decisions are made affecting nursing and health care and will be responsive to cultural diversity needs of nurses and to the consumers of health care. This award recognizes the outstanding professional contributions of one public health or community health nurse and calls this achievement to the attention of members of the profession as well as the general public.

The nominee:

  1. Must be a current and active WSNA member or have been a WSNA member during the years of service for which this award is given
  2. Must have made a significant contribution and have shown leadership to the field of public or community health nursing

Joanna Boatman Staff Nurse Leadership Award

In alignment with WSNA goals, nurses will promote the professional development and advance the economic and general welfare of all nurses. This award was established in 1995 in recognition of Joanna Boatman’s significant contributions to the advancement of staff nurses and her achievements in improving the economic and general welfare of nurses in the State of Washington.

The nominee:

  1. Must have been a WSNA member for at least one year
  2. Must currently be employed as a staff nurse
  3. Must have made a significant contribution (at the local or state level) to the advancement of staff nurses or in the economic and general welfare area of nursing

ANA Honorary Membership Pin

In alignment with WSNA goals, nurses will anticipate and respond to the changing needs to the profession and nurses. This award is presented to a WSNA member or members in recognition of outstanding leadership, as well as participation in and contributions to the purposes of WSNA and ANA.

The nominee:

  1. Must have demonstrated outstanding leadership that contributed to the purposes of the WSNA, district and/or ANA
  2. Must have held elected/appointed state, national or district office

Community Partner Award

In alignment with WSNA goals, this award recognizes a community and/or consumer partner who has contributed significantly to promoting health and a positive image of nurses through advocacy, safety and/or quality health care improvement(s).

The nominee has demonstrated interest in professional nursing by:

  1. contributing in a concrete way to its growth and development
  2. promoting better understanding of professional nursing in the community

Professional Nursing and Health Care Council Awards

Excellence in Practice Award

Presented to an individual, recognizing excellence in practice in the direct care of patients/clients.

The nominee:

  1. Must be a current WSNA member
  2. Demonstrates an evidence-based contribution or achievement that positively impacts patients and the advancement of nursing practice
  3. Leads their work through effective collaboration with stakeholders and colleagues

Leadership and Management Award

Presented to an individual, recognizing excellence in nursing leadership and management.

The nominee:

  1. Must be a current WSNA member
  2. Promotes professional development of nurses and facilitates excellence in clinical practice
  3. Demonstrates progressive leadership and management practice
  4. Fosters a care environment that promotes creativity and enhances quality of care for patients/clients and/or communities
  5. Promotes a safe, supportive and professional working environment

Nurse Educator Award

Presented to an individual, recognizing excellence in nursing education.

The nominee:

  1. Must be a current WSNA member
  2. Demonstrates excellence in nursing education through evidence-based, innovative and inspirational methods
  3. Promotes the professional education of nursing students and/or nurses
  4. Fosters an educational environment that promotes learning and meets highest outcomes for learning
  5. Promotes enthusiasm for students and nurses to pursue advancement of professional education

Ethics and Human Rights Award

Presented to an individual, recognizing excellence in ethics and human rights.

The nominee:

  1. Must be a current WSNA member
  2. Through major contribution or achievement supports ethical and human rights issues in Washington state
  3. Demonstrates work that is accomplished through partnership with communities.

Nurse Researcher Award

Presented to an individual or a group, recognizing excellence in nursing research that addresses practice issues. The awardee(s) may be asked to present the research in a poster or presentation at the Washington State Nurses Convention, and/or to write a summary of the work for The Washington Nurse.

The nominee:

  1. Must be a current WSNA member (if the nominee is a group or team, at least one member of the group must be a WSNA member)
  2. Research conducted by the nominee must have relevance to practice and direct practice implications
  3. Conducts sound research procedures including the protection of human subjects
  4. Disseminates relevant research findings through publications, presentations and/or conferences

Nominate someone today!