Karen Matsuda Med Res

Karen Matsuda, MN, BSN, RN

Karen Matsuda has served as a public health nurse, a school nurse, an educator, a federal regional nurse trainer and Director of the Washington State Family Planning Program. She spent 23 years with the U.S. Public Health Service’s Federal Region X, where she progressed to the highest levels of respon­si­bility and decision-making in the administration.

Throughout her career, Matsuda has been dedicated to improving popula­tion health and pushing for advanced practice nurse training, both of which have made a tremen­dous impact on Washington state, as well as Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and the nation. Matsuda’s contri­bu­tions and excel­lence across all areas of patient care, leader­ship, educa­tion, public service, nurse advocacy, heroism, patient advocacy and clinical practice have made a lasting impact on patients and the profes­sion of nursing.

Matusda earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Seattle Pacific Univer­sity in 1968 and her Master of Nursing Admin­is­tra­tion from the Univer­sity of Washington 10 years later. She completed Women’s Health Care Nurse Practi­tioner training from the Harbor/​UCLA School of Medicine in 1973.

Matsuda began her nursing career as a public health and visiting nurse with the Seattle-King County Depart­ment of Public Health, where she provided home visits and worked in the Maternal and Infant Care, Children and Youth and Family Planning clinics. She went on to work as a school nurse, a Nurse Educator/​Nurse Practi­tioner with Planned Parent­hood of Seattle-King County and as a Health Services admin­is­trator for Title X family planning programs in the Washington State Depart­ment of Social and Health Services. She was a consul­tant and trainer for women’s health and family programs for a decade before joining the U.S. Public Health Service, Region X, where she worked in progres­sively respon­sible positions for the next 23 years.

Advocacy for high quality patient care, especially for commu­ni­ties of color and families of lower income has been a promi­nent theme of Matsuda’s entire nursing practice career. Her work included special initia­tives related to women’s health, minority health, family planning and repro­duc­tive health, HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis preven­tion, children and adult immuniza­tions and tobacco control.

As a senior-level health official for Federal Region X, Matsuda had a major influ­ence on patient care throughout Washington state, as well in the other Region X states of Alaska, Idaho and Oregon. She was one of the first to promote Patient Flow Analysis to reduce patient wait times, firmly believing that providing high quality, yet efficient care was benefi­cial to the many clients who relied on public clinics because of lower socioe­co­nomic status. A new idea at the time, it has now been widely incor­po­rated in the Northwest.

While individual-level patient care has always been her principal focus, Matsuda has worked on a variety of broad-reaching health policy platforms to address popula­tion-level health. Early in her career as a public health nurse in the Seattle-King County Depart­ment of Public Health, she

authored the first infer­tility guide­lines for clinic proto­cols at SKCDPH and designed the first portable birth control kit for public health nurses to use during patient home visits.

Matsuda’s excep­tional ability to recog­nize health trends, concep­tu­alize policies and adapt them to state-level prior­i­ties, along with her poise and artic­u­late style, were recog­nized in her promo­tion to the highest level of manage­ment in the U.S. Public Health Service’s Region X. She was the first nurse ever to be named its Deputy Regional Health Admin­is­trator. For three years she served as Acting Regional Health Admin­is­trator, which made her the most senior ranking federal public health official for the states of Washington, Alaska, Idaho and Oregon.

Matsuda worked throughout her career to advance educa­tional and career oppor­tu­ni­ties for nurses and profes­sionals of color. She estab­lished a fellow­ship in the Region X office that led to new, expanded educa­tion and preven­tion for the Tobacco Free Campus Initia­tive at higher learning insti­tu­tions nation­wide. She also helped estab­lish an HIV-AIDS program consul­tant position in Federal Region X that advanced the careers of many profes­sionals of color.

Matsuda served as a Clinical Instructor with the Univer­sity of Washington School of Nursing’s Depart­ment of Family and Child Nursing for over 13 years, working with both master’s and postdoc­toral students. She had special interest in mentoring students from under­rep­re­sented popula­tions and guiding them through career devel­op­ment even after they completed their academic program.

Among her many honors and awards, Matsuda has received the Distin­guished Alumnus award from the Univer­sity of Washington School of Nursing, selec­tion into the Seattle Pacific Univer­sity Alumni Hall of Fame Honor Roll and honors from numerous commu­nity organi­za­tion for her advocacy for nurses and modeling excellence.

Matsuda has been a strong advocate for nurses over her entire profes­sional career. She has had a lifetime of extra­or­di­nary perfor­mance in roles serving local, state and federal levels, repre­senting the nursing profes­sion with distinction.