Spanning nearly five decades, Frances J. Terry’s career as a professional nurse has been met with much acclaim. She broke down barriers and advanced her field, opening doors for all nurses in health settings such as hospitals, community health institutions, public schools, community mental health agencies, and advanced educational institutions. Ms. Terry is noted as the first African-American student to graduate from Seattle University’s nursing program, which she did with a Bachelor of Science in 1951, and as the second to graduate from any nursing school in the state. She eventually returned to school to earn a Master of Science in nursing from the University of Washington in 1981, furthering her academic accomplishments. She is also licensed as an advanced registered nurse practitioner by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.
As director of health services at the Northwest Center for the Developmentally Challenged, Ms. Terry performed health appraisals, monitored and administered medication, kept accurate records, organized and led therapeutic groups for males, females, and co-ed clients to improve self-esteem, kept the environment safe by following established nursing standards, and worked effectively with parents, teachers, and staff for the best possible care of the patients with special needs. During her time at Northwest Center, she obtained a grant that established an after-school program for the special needs children whose parents did not get home from work until late in the day.
Ms. Terry garnered experience and demonstrated excellence in a variety of other positions as well. She was a public health nurse at Seattle King County Health Department, a nurse in Seattle Public Schools, a nursing instructor at Seattle University, a nurse case manager of mental health at the University of Washington, and a nursing instructor at Shoreline Community College. She was also a psychiatric mental health practitioner at the University of Washington-Harborview Medical Center, a prescribing and consulting nurse at Community House Mental Health Agency, a staff nurse at Providence Hospital, and a nurse in the health enhancement program at the Central Area Senior Center. Further, she was a volunteer facilitator at the Joslin Diabetes Center.
To stay connected with her peers and community, Ms. Terry joined the Washington State Nurses Association (WSNA) right after graduation and has been an active member ever since. She represented WSNA at the International Congress of Nurses in Madrid and served on WSNA’s Cabinet of Nursing Practice and Education and on the Committee for Ethics and Human Rights. Ms. Terry also joined prominent organizations like the Knights of Peter Claver Ladies and the Seattle Central College Foundation. She helped to found the Mary Mahoney Professional Nurses Association, and was the auditor of the church council of Immaculate Conception Church.
In recognition of her achievements and accomplishments, Ms. Terry was named Outstanding Nurse, by the University Washington-Harborview Medical Center in 1993, and named to the Hall of Fame by the Washington State Nurses Association in 2000. She was honored at the Washington State Nurses Society Centennial Celebration in 2008 and received the community service award from Seattle University. In addition, she has been featured in numerous editions of Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in Medicine and Healthcare, Who’s Who in the World, and Who’s Who of American Women.