An early proponent of nursing research as a priority activity for the development of nursing science, Katherine J. Hoffman was one of the founders of the Western Society for Research in Nursing. She was equally committed to graduate education for nurses and assisted in the establishment of the Western Council for Higher Education in Nursing.
The first nurse in the state of Washington to earn a PhD (1956), she became one of the highest ranking women administrators at the University of Washington.
Hoffman was born April 18, 1910, in Grand Forks, British Columbia, and moved to Tacoma, Washington, with her family in 1923. She earned a bachelor of arts degree in English Literature in 1929, and a diploma in nursing from Tacoma General Hospital School of Nursing in 1934. While working as a night supervisor, she completed the requirements for an advanced obstetrical nursing certificate, and in 1937, began her career as a nurse educator at the College of Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran College. In 1941, Hoffman earned a master's degree in nursing and fifteen years later the doctorate, both from the University of Washington in Seattle.
During her thirty-four year career in nursing education, Hoffman served as mentor to countless students and colleagues. Her commitment to scientific study was exemplified by the nurse-scientist program she established at the University of Washington in 1963. The program enabled nurses pursuing doctoral study to undertake research in scientific disciplines like microbiology, physiology, and anthropology. Hoffman was dedicated to the expansion of scientific principles in nursing and the use of those principles in the advancement of nursing practice. An expert in curriculum development and program evaluation, Hoffman was a consultant to many nursing schools across the country. Her educational ideas were student oriented, interdisciplinary in nature, and research focused. Highly respected in the University of Washington community, Hoffman's ability to promote collaboration among various disciplines was an asset in the formation of a health sciences center.
Hoffman was a charter member of the American Academy of Nursing and an active participant in professional organizations, including the American Nurses Association, National League for Nursing, and Washington State Nurses Association. She was consistently involved in advisory groups studying professional standards, educational criteria, and research development. Upon her retirement in 1975, Hoffman was named professor emeritus in recognition of her years of service and outstanding contributions to the University of Washington. Acknowledged for her remarkable achievements, Katherine Hoffman is also remembered for her warmth, compassion, and ability to relate to others.