Nurse Profiles

Nurse’s family puts “good education” at top of list

Pauline Lao’s paternal grandparents, Chinese by birth, lived in Cambodia during the war in Vietnam. During the era of the “killing fields” in Cambodia, they emigrated to the U.S. Her mother’s family is Chinese also, but emigrated here from Malaysia.

“The most important thing to both my parents has always been for their children to have an opportunity to get a good education,” says Pauline.

Encouraged throughout her early schooling, Pauline was the first in her immediate family to attend college. She now holds a DNP/ ARNP and is midway through a year-long fellowship in geriatrics and palliative care at Northwest Hospital.

In high school, Pauline’s idea was to become a pediatric oncologist. While volunteering at Seattle Children’s, UWMC and elsewhere, however, she was mentored by some very special nurses. She later decided that the nature of nursing care was closer to the work she wanted for herself. She attended University of Washington School of Nursing, graduating in 2011.

After graduation, Pauline worked in the neurology and kidney program (“otherwise known as ‘electrical and plumbing,’” she says) at Virginia Mason Hospital. When she decided on graduate school two years later, Pauline worked part-time as a TA in the University of Washington “learning lab.” Incredibly good at juggling many balls, Pauline graduated with her DNP/ARNP in March 2016, and got married that April!

Currently, Pauline is working to complete her post-graduate fellowship, which includes both clinical and didactic experience, and also allows her to take short specialty courses in areas such as geriatric psychology and hepatology. “The fellowship has provided an opportunity to refine skills and expand knowledge,” she says, “and has been an invaluable experience in preparing me to specialize in geriatrics and palliative care upon completion of the program.”

Pauline has been an active member of KCNA for a number of years, serving as board secretary and on the Scholarship and Membership/PR committees. She is known to many members for her help at the Annual Meeting & Spring Banquet, where she frequently announces the scholarship recipients. Pauline is also a volunteer mentor with the KCNA MentorLink program.

According to Executive Director Sue Vermeulen, “Pauline is just a perfect fit for the volunteer work she does for us. She is smart and kind, and she brings a welcome perspective to the board and the Scholarship Committee. Pauline is easy to work with, and when she commits to something, you just know it will happen."

And in her spare time? By now the reader assumes that Pauline has no spare time, but in fact she does manage the occasional time for relaxation and fun. She and her husband love to travel; they recently returned from a trip to Thailand (“an overdue honeymoon”), which allowed them to tick off one of their “international bucket list” items.

Closer to home, they have enjoyed spending time with family and friends, cooking and hiking. (Pauline recently hiked Mailbox Peak, several miles straight up. “I don’t know that I would do it again,” she says, “given my fear of heights.”)