September 25, 2019

Father’s illness inspires nursing career

Meet Qing Zhou, one of Kaiser Permanente’s 2019 Extraordinary Nurse Award recipients.

Qing Zhou

Watching nurses and her mother care for her ill father led Qing Zhou to nursing. “My father was always sick when I was little and often in the hospital because of rheumatoid arthritis. I saw what the nurses did to care for him,” said Zhou, who has worked at Kaiser Permanente for 21 years. “Also, my mother was a nurse. I was inspired by her compassion for her patients. She was well respected and loved by everyone. I knew when I was young that nursing was what I wanted to do.”

Now, Zhou, a registered nurse, is charge nurse and specialty coordinator in general surgery at the Kaiser Permanente Irvine Medical Center in Southern California.

“As a child, I saw nurses give my father shots, draw blood, give medication instructions, and talk to him about taking care of himself. I don’t think my father could have lived this long without their care.”

How does your work contribute to Kaiser Permanente’s efforts to transform health and health care?

As a nurse for Kaiser Permanente, quality care and safety are our top priorities. I initiated our participation in the Go Clear program from the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses. The goal is to create a smoke-free environment in surgery.  With support from our staff and leaders to reduce operating room smoke from surgical equipment, the rate of staff calling in sick decreased and we won the AORN Go Clear Silver Award in 2018. We were the first operating team in the state of California to win this award.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I’ve done simultaneous translation between English and Chinese at AORN conferences for 10 years. I was born in China, went to nursing school there, and worked as a nurse there for 8 years. I came to the United States. when I was 25 — English is my second language. Working as a nurse in both China and the U.S. has helped tremendously when it comes to translating medical terms.

Describe one of your most memorable moments as a nurse.

Four years ago, a surgeon and I picked up a patient from the emergency room who had a ruptured abdominal aneurysm. He looked very pale and was unresponsive. His abdominal area was tender, which was a clear sign of internal bleeding. Based on our experiences, the patient was in critical condition and needed surgery immediately, so our entire team was mobilized — we ordered blood, collected surgical instruments, and got a graft ready. The anesthesiologist put the patient to sleep very quickly. Surgery started less than 10 minutes after we brought the patient into the operating room and lasted more than 3 hours. During that time, we gave the patient 20 units of blood. The patient survived. I still remember that day and the wonderful feeling of being part of our team efforts that saved a patient’s life.