Bonnie Sandahl Todd

Bonnie Sandahl Todd

In 1974, Bonnie Sandahl Todd spoke to the King County Medical Society on the topic of: Role of the Nurse Practi­tioner, Is She Here to Stay?”

Only two years earlier, she had gradu­ated from the Pediatric Nurse Practi­tioner Program at the Univer­sity of Washington, becoming one of the first five Pediatric Nurse Practi­tioners in Washington state. The nurse practi­tioner role was contro­ver­sial at that time, to say the least. Many physi­cians saw it as an encroach­ment on the practice of medicine. 

Then, in 1975, Bonnie was appointed co-chair of the Washington State Joint Practice Commis­sion, whose task was to bring together the Washington State Nurses Associ­a­tion and Washington State Medical Associ­a­tion to craft rules for the scope of practice of the nurse practi­tioner. At the outset, the nurses and the physi­cians met in separate rooms, but they ultimately came together and reached consensus on proposed rules and regula­tions for practice. These rules were adopted by the Board of Nursing with no changes, and Washington state was then on its way to becoming one of the most progres­sive in the nation when it comes to scope of practice for nurse practi­tioners. Bonnie played a signif­i­cant role in making that happen, and she considers her work leading the Joint Practice Commis­sion one of the greatest accom­plish­ments of her career. 

Bonnie has applied her skill and passion to serving children and families in many different ways over the course of her career. She has left her mark on families she has worked with directly as well as on the policies and programs avail­able to support them. 

Following a brief stint with the Seattle-King County Health Depart­ment, in 1959, Bonnie joined the staff at Seattle Children’s Hospital, then known as Children’s Ortho­pedic Hospital. She worked for five years with high-risk medical and surgical patients and also served as an Assis­tant Head Nurse. 

After­wards, Bonnie worked as a school nurse and in Head Start programs, where she devoted much of her time to screen­ings, assess­ments and services for children with special needs. During her first time with the Seattle School District, from 1968 to 1976, Bonnie was selected by the Medical Director and the Manager of Health Services to fill the one slot offered to the entire district for the Univer­sity of Washington’s new Pediatric Nurse Practi­tioner program. 

Around this time, in the 1970s, Bonnie began what became a career-long commit­ment to service. There isn’t a single year in her long career when Bonnie hasn’t been involved in commis­sion and board work. She has been appointed by five Washington Gover­nors to serve and lead commis­sions and commit­tees on health care policy for the State. 

For 12 years, Bonnie served on the State Inter­a­gency Coordi­nating Council for Infants and Toddlers with Disability & their families, the last six years as the Council’s chair. In this position, Bonnie played a funda­mental role in advising and assisting DSHS and other state agencies in coordi­nating, devel­oping and imple­menting policies dealing with early inter­ven­tion and services for children with disabilities. 

In 1980, Bonnie was appointed by Presi­dent Jimmy Carter to the National Council on Health Planning and Devel­op­ment, which provided health planning for all physical and mental health services for the country. She served for six years, including time as Interim Chair of the Council. 

In 1978, Bonnie moved to Harborview Medical Center, where she worked for nearly two decades as a Clinical Nurse Specialist and Researcher and as Nurse Manager of the Women’s Clinic. She went on to work as manager of the Provi­dence Children’s Center at Provi­dence General in Everett. She then took her consid­er­able skills to the non-profit world, serving as Vice Presi­dent for Clinical Services and Opera­tions, Chief Operating Officer, and finally as Execu­tive Director of Seattle Children’s Home. As CEO, Bonnie strength­ened the organization’s finances so that they could continue to provide a full spectrum of mental health and devel­op­mental services for children and families. 

The research and program grants Bonnie has secured have brought in more than one million dollars to various programs. To name just a few examples, these grants have supported services for chemi­cally using pregnant and parenting women and their young children; a study of the impact of managed care on children with special health care needs; and a domestic violence grant for homeless youth. 

Bonnie also served as the director of the Child Abuse Preven­tion Parenting Program, funded by DSHS and the Washington Council on Child Abuse and Neglect. 

Thirty years after she left school nursing, Bonnie returned to the Seattle School District in 2006, where she functions within her Nurse Practi­tioner licen­sure. Bonnie serves children and families of the Seattle Public Schools through direct nursing services and consul­ta­tion and evalu­a­tion of children with specific barriers to learning. 

To say the School District is thrilled to have her back is an under­state­ment. Katie Johnson, Student Health Services Manager for Seattle Public Schools, said: Bonnie is a wise and caring school nurse who is beloved by her Principal, her staff, her students and her families. She is a wonderful asset to Seattle Public Schools and we are so grateful for the care she provides to some of our most vulner­able children.” 

With her wealth of experi­ence, Bonnie also serves as a mentor to new school nurses, partic­u­larly in the Special Educa­tion assess­ment process and serving students at risk. Returning to the question Bonnie addressed early in her career: Role of the Nurse Practi­tioner, Is She Here to Stay?” Today, it is clear that the answer is a resounding Yes.” And Bonnie has been a signif­i­cant part of making that true.