UW Madison graduate becomes the first Hmong-American to earn a PhD in nursing

Published: Aug. 14, 2017 at 5:09 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) --- She's the first Hmong-American nurse in the country to earn her PhD, and she did it at UW Madison.

Now, she's determined to help other Hmong immigrants.

Maichou Lor has been working tirelessly on her post doc since receiving her PhD in May, and she's come a long way.

Her family moved to Madison from a refugee camp in Thailand when she was just six years old.

"I would say that the beginning was challenging because, you know, coming to a new country, learning a new language has always been very difficult," Lor explained.

Moving to a foreign country at that age might seem very difficult, and she doesn't deny that.

"It was challenging because you have to balance between two different cultures," she said.

But it also allowed her to learn English faster, to help her family with the transition.

"Reading letters that are being sent home or taking them to their health care visits," she remembered. "I just knew that that was just part of my role that I had to do to make sure that everybody got what they needed and that we were just okay, because there was just nobody else that we could rely on."

Because of the language barrier, she had to be the translator.

"I continued to educate my parents on their health information or health condition and I would advocate for them when they don't understand anything or needed particular things for their health, so I felt like I was already a nurse at a young age," she said.

And now, she's hoping to use those experiences to help other Hmong immigrants.

"How do we help patients understand their health information by creating visuals, so that they would have the ability to to understand their health information and do something about it?" she suggested.

According to Lor, by starting to collect health data and creating interventions, it will ultimately help improve the Hmong's health.

She is moving to New York at the end of August to continue her studies at Columbia University.

Copyright 2017: WMTV

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