In her four decades as a nurse, Debbie Brinker’s work has contributed to the wellbeing and advance­ment of patients, students and the nursing profes­sion. She has cared for children as a pediatric nurse, held leader­ship positions at the state and national level and shaped the careers of hundreds of students. Her mentor­ship, leader­ship and passion for the profes­sion have rippled across the globe.

Brinker received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the Univer­sity of Washington and her Master of Science in Nursing as a Pediatric Critical Care Clinical Nurse Specialist from the Univer­sity of California in San Francisco. She began her nursing career in Seattle as a staff nurse in the Pediatric Inten­sive Care Unit at Children’s Hospital. Her work as a pediatric and critical care nurse has taken her from Washington state to the United States Air Force Hospital in Homestead, Florida, from Upstate New York to California’s Central Valley.

Brinker settled in the Inland Empire in 1992 and worked for 13 years as a clinical nurse specialist in the PICU at Deaconess Medical Center.

In 2002, Brinker joined the faculty of the Washington State Univer­sity College of Nursing, where she currently serves as Clinical Assis­tant Professor and Assis­tant Dean for Clinical Affairs. Her teaching experi­ence includes pediatrics and profes­sional devel­op­ment and leader­ship education.

Brinker’s commit­ment to growing the future gener­a­tion of nurses with a spirit of inquiry, quest for research and appli­ca­tion of evidence in practice are invalu­able. She gives all her students a solid founda­tion to lead and contribute with team members in achieving a culture of health. In recog­ni­tion of her teaching excel­lence, WSNA gave Brinker the Nurse Educator Award in 2013.

In 2017, she became the first College of Nursing faculty member to receive the WSU President’s Distin­guished Teaching Award for Instruc­tors and Clinical Faculty. In announcing the award, the Univer­sity said, Her teaching philos­ophy of engage and trans­form’ is manifested in her research publi­ca­tions, positive student evalu­a­tions and affirming feedback from clinical site partners.” Brinker also has been honored by the WSU College of Nursing with both a Faculty Service Award and Under­grad­uate Faculty Award.

Brinker’s passion for supporting nursing students goes beyond WSNA. She also has served as the faculty advisor for the Nursing Students of Washington State for more than five years, where she has mentored students in leader­ship roles. She has acted as keynote speaker at the NSWS Conven­tion on the topic of how to prepare an effec­tive resume to get a nursing job. Brinker regularly brings busloads of students from the Spokane area across the state to Olympia for WSNA’s Nurse Legisla­tive Day, impressing upon her students the impor­tance of advocating for nursing practice and health care issues on behalf of all those in Washington state.

In addition to her teaching and mentoring, Brinker has stepped forward as a leader at both the state and national level. She is a national past presi­dent of the American Associ­a­tion of Critical-Care Nurses. Currently, Brinker serves as presi­dent of the Washington Center for Nursing, the statewide nursing workforce center, and is deeply committed to meeting WCN’s mission of supporting a healthier Washington by engaging nurses’ exper­tise, influ­ence and perspec­tive and by building a diverse, highly quali­fied nurse workforce to meet future demands. As the vital link to central and eastern Washington, Brinker has been critical to WCN’s work to estab­lish a diver­sity mentoring program in Yakima, raise

aware­ness of implicit bias in Spokane and create a rural health advisory committee. None of these initia­tives would have happened without her.

Brinker is also a member of the Leader­ship Washington Nursing Action Coali­tion, the statewide inter­pro­fes­sional effort that lever­ages nurses’ exper­tise to improve and trans­form the health care system. Responding to the alarming shortage of clinical place­ment experi­ences and clinical faculty to teach nursing, Brinker joined the Action Now! effort to improve nursing educa­tion. In that role, she is working with stake­holders to ensure the state has more residency and precep­tor­ship programs for nursing students and new gradu­ates in all settings.

From bedside nursing, to teaching and mentoring to leader­ship at the state and national level, Brinker’s work and dedica­tion has influ­enced count­less patients and students, and will continue to have a lasting impact on the nursing profes­sion and the health of our communities.