It all started in the summer of 1947. That's when Helen Wells, RN, MNA, graduated with a BSN from the Washington University School of Nursing and finished her clinical hours at Barnes Hospital. It's been a globespanning adventure ever since.
Many decades later, the names of the nursing school and hospital have changed. But Helen's gratitude for her nursing education has not. "Everything I've done is due to the solid foundation I received at the Washington University School of Nursing and my clinical experiences at Barnes Hospital," Helen says. "It was hard to see the Washington University School of Nursing close in 1969, but the new direction Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College is taking today is exciting and inspiring."
Disappointed that funds from the nursing alumni association were distributed to the medical school, Helen decided to create the Washington University School of Nursing Alumnae Scholarship Fund. "I wanted to do something to keep the name of my school in the eyes of the nursing profession," says Helen, who has donated a deferred gift annuity to provide scholarship support to the Barnes-Jewish College of Nursing. The College's new physical assessment lab is named in her honor.
In addition to her generous scholarship donation, she has also given her Washington University School of Nursing pin to Barnes-Jewish. The pin was included in the college's time capsule.
"The profession of nursing has changed over the years," Helen says. "With today's technology, the nurse is better able to assess and monitor the patient, so the Barnes- Jewish commitment to the nursing profession is truly needed."
After graduating and working at Barnes Hospital, Helen took a seasonal job at Yellowstone National Park in 1948. Helen and a nursing classmate joined the summer nursing staff and treated tourists and employees for injuries and illnesses. On their free hours, they joined the park rangers in fishing and climbing mountains. Letters and photos of her experiences are now a part of the Yellowstone museum's collection.
Helen then worked as a nurse in London, England. After a second season in Yellowstone, she combined her love of travel and the need for career advancement by joining the U.S. Air Force. Over the years, she served as a flight nurse transporting injured Korean War soldiers to U.S. military hospitals, served as an operating room nurse on three continents and finished a master's degree in nursing in 1960. She taught operating room nursing and served as chief nurse at a hospital in France. Helen retired from the Air Force in 1973.
Her "retirement" years living outside of San Antonio, Texas, have been filled with volunteer work, family genealogy research and travel.