UW–Madison School of Nursing Assistant Professor Maichou Lor ’11, MS’12, Cert’14, PhD’17, RN, was honored as one of six UW–Madison Outstanding Women of Color for the 2022-23 year.
The prestigious award was established in 2007, and this year’s recipients mark the 15th cohort of Outstanding Women of Color Award honorees. An important annual Women’s Herstory Month event, the award recognizes diverse women among UW–Madison’s faculty, staff, students (undergraduate and post-baccalaureate), and in the greater Madison community whose advocacy, activism, or scholarship has positively transformed their organizations or communities, and whose efforts advance equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging for people of color.
When nominating Lor for the award, Barbara Bowers, PhD, RN, professor emerita of the School of Nursing, described Lor as a scholar and community activist, adding, “She is driven by the desire to improve the health of the Hmong population and eliminate health disparities they experience.”
“I am honored and deeply humbled to accept this prestigious award,” said Lor during her acceptance speech. “I cannot take credit for this award on my own. So much of who I am has been nurtured, guided, and uplifted by so many people… This award is very meaningful to me – not only because it recognizes my work, but because it increases awareness and recognition of the importance of social justice for disadvantaged and marginalized populations.”
Lor, the first Hmong-American nurse to receive a PhD in the United States, focuses her research on providing linguistic and cultural access to care for populations with limited English proficiency, concentrating on the Hmong populations. She has led multiple interdisciplinary research teams in patient-provider communication (e.g., pain communication), hearing screenings, mental health, and medical interpreting.
“By developing and disseminating culturally appropriate tools to facilitate health participation where such barriers exist, Dr. Lor is improving the health trajectory for generations of individuals, families, communities, and populations,” said Linda D. Scott, PhD, RN, NEW-BC, FNAP, FAAN, dean and professor of the UW–Madison School of Nursing.
Among the many milestones Lor and her teams have reached, one of the most notable is developing the first Hmong word recognition test for the Hmong community. A word recognition test is one of the basic components of hearing evaluations. The Hmong word recognition test allows for Hmong-speaking patients to get an accurate diagnosis of the type of hearing loss they may have and receive appropriate hearing care and treatments.
Lor has published over 40 articles and presented 60 scholarly research presentations at local, regional, national, and international conferences. Her presentations are on issues related to poor access to care and health disparities due to cultural and language differences from the mainstream, as well as solutions to improving the engagement of underrepresented communities in health research. She has received invitations to speak locally and nationally on topics related to the recruitment and retention of minority nursing students, and Hmong health for student organizations, professional organizations, and the Hmong community.
“She continues to have a real impact as a mentor both in the Hmong community, and on campus,” Bowers added. “Not just Hmong students, but students from many marginalized groups who all find her incredibly helpful, supportive, and always available.”
Along with her research, Lor enjoys teaching about social justice and health equity. One of her favorite classes to teach is Nursing 510: Culturally Congruent Health Care Practice, teaches students to critically reflect on their socially constructed identities and the impact these identities have on patient care and health care systems.
“These outstanding women are simply a representation of the countless women who have made excellence the standard within the academy and the community, while also humbly pouring into so many,” said Deputy Vice Chancellor and Chief Diversity Officer LaVar J. Charleston. “Collectively, we want to make certain they know how valued they are by their villages, how respected and appreciated they are by their colleagues, and how loved they are by their family and friends.”