Paul Kunkel

With a lifelong commitment to the underserved, especially in Hispanic communities, Paul Kunkel has profoundly impacted public health, championed the role of men in nursing, and advocated for marginalized populations.

Paul Kunkel, MS, RN received his Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1982 from Washington State University’s Intercollegiate Center for Nursing Education. He went on to receive his Masters in Science in International and Cross-Cultural Nursing from the University of California in San Francisco.

Paul has demonstrated his dedication to the underserved through his many roles in nursing. He recently became a RN Case Manager for the Surgical, Orthopedics, and Pediatrics units at Central Washington Hospital in Wenatchee. Previous to that, he was a public health nurse in Chelan-Douglas Health District.

As a public health nurse, he focused mainly on First Steps maternity care, high risk newborns, children with special health care needs, well-child screening, and Spanish interpretation and translation for predominantly monolingual Hispanic clients.

Paul has had extensive experience working with migrant workers in Central Washington. His ability to speak Spanish fluently is a major asset. In 1984, Paul left Seattle for his “dream mission” to direct a church sponsored health care clinic in the rural region of Guatemala. Working with Hispanics was one of Paul’s goals when he entered nursing school. Growing up in Wenatchee, he witnessed the influx of agricultural workers who primarily spoke Spanish, and observed the limited access to the health care system due to the small number of bilingual caregivers.

His excerpts from his journal in Guatemala were published in The Washington Nurse. His work there gave him many challenges including government and political unrest, the myriad health care problems that stemmed from lack of nutrition, sanitation and preventative health education. Paul’s understanding of poverty was enhanced by his experience in Guatemala and his work for the underprivileged continued upon his return to Central Washington and throughout his years of service as a public health nurse working with migrant workers.

Paul was elected to the WSNA Cabinet on Ethics and Human Rights in 1993-1995 and again in 1995-1997. During his tenure as chair of the Cabinet, they conducted a survey of all the men who were WSNA members to explore discrimination faced by men in nursing. The survey received one of the highest return rates on surveys for WSNA and shed light on the discrimination faced by men in nursing. The men surveyed had been nurses from six months to thirty years and 54% of the respondents said that they did face discrimination as male nurses. As a result, Paul has worked diligently to improve the image of men in nursing and has helped promote and mentor other men into the profession. Paul also served on the Board of Directors for WSNA District 7 Chelan-Douglas County Nurses Association, and was a delegate to the 1992 ANA Biennial Convention.

In addition to WSNA, Paul is also member of Sigma Theta Tau and the Society of St. Vincent DePaul, the Transcultural Nursing Society and the American Public Health Association. Paul has served as President and on the Board of Directors at Columbia Valley Community Health Services, on the Advisory Board of El Centro del Pueblo a Latino mental health agency, and as co-chair of the Wenatchee Mayor’s Council on Community Relations to promote positive cross-cultural communication and advocate for the underprivileged in North Central Washington.

Paul was recognized in 1993 with the Washington Human Development Community Organization Award for his work on the Wenatchee Mayor’s Council on Community Relations and also the 1998 WSNA Ethics and Human Rights Award from the Cabinet on Ethics and Human Rights.

From his experience in Guatemala, Paul vowed to "continue to fight and work to improve the conditions of the poor wherever I may live." And that is exactly what Paul has done throughout his entire career!