Distinguished Staff Award
Photograph of Irawati Lam

Irawati Lam

Registered Nurse, Radiation Oncolocy, UW Medical Center

Nominated by Nicole Pelly, MD, Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

Awarded 2015

This is a letter of nomination for Irawati “Ira” Lam, RN. Ira is a registered nurse who works in the UW Medical Center Department of Radiation Oncology. Her job is taking care of pediatric patients who are receiving daily radiation. As pediatric anesthesiologists, we work alongside Ira and witness her amazing ability to calm patients and families under difficult circumstances. She delivers superior service to patients, family and fellow coworkers in a quiet and humble manner. She creates an oasis of calm which touches everyone she meets. She cultivates respect because she respects others. Ira is an exemplary employee of the University of Washington.

Integrity: Ira exudes high integrity and innately expresses it through her attention to detail. When she tells a pediatric patient she is going to do something, she follows through and does it precisely as they expect. This inculcates trust in small, scared patients who have come to trust few people in their medical world. Ira cares deeply every single day of the child’s treatment, coming to know their families well. She handpicks a teddy bear and balloons when children finish their treatments turning it into a milestone of celebration! The patients and their families adore her and express their attachment by coming to see her after their treatment are complete and sending Christmas cards year after year. She expresses joy at the happy little moments which lift the spirits of her patients and their families in a time of need. As a parent herself, she intuits the needs of the families somehow knowing just when they need a kind word, an open ear for listening, or a hug.

Diversity: Growing up in Indonesia as a person of Chinese descent and immigrating to the US as a teenager, Ira defines diversity herself. Her patients and coworkers of all religious and ethnic backgrounds feel her respect through her interest and inquiry into their culture and traditions. Ira incorporates her own experiences of diversity into her nursing care in a seamless fashion. She is truly interested in who her patients and their families are and how she can better serve them.

Excellence: Ira does it right every time. And then she does it again and again. She almost always has the answers to any question, and if she doesn’t she gets them quickly (and correctly!). She quietly performs procedures like accessing pediatric portacaths in crying children and succeeds both in the procedure and in making the child and parents feel better despite the pain. Ira’s work is excellent because of her positive and calm attitude while she methodically attends to the smallest of details.

Collaboration: Ira is in constant communication with Seattle Childrens Hospital double checking that schedules, medications and policies are being followed so that patients feel they are being cared for by the same group of people whether UW employees or SCH employees. Ira works closely with other nurses, physicians, radiation technologists and support staff and helps the University of Washington system flow smoothly. A patient’s family recently commented “Irawati is the best nurse in the world she helps, supports and cares. We like the way the staff works with Childrens – it is like one team! “. That parental observation is due, entirely, to Ira.

Innovation: Ira finds ways to get what her patients need. When parents consistently commented that a larger recovery room was needed, she found a space and moved into it “temporarily” resulting in eventual permanent residence! When she noticed that purchasing food daily (for hungry kids awakening from anesthesia) was a financial burden for families, she created a food fund, found a refrigerator for the recovery room and bought snacks. Ira finds pediatric art and decorates the recovery room to make it a more inviting place. She supports the creation of innovative safety ideas such as pioneering checklists and newly created airway boxes. Ira doesn’t expect the system to provide for her needs but rather finds creative solutions within the system to benefit everyone around her.

Respect: In addition to respect, words such as humility and grace describe Ira. She quietly, thoughtfully, and with consummate respect goes about her job at the University of Washington Medical Center. She exemplifies excellence and integrity in her workplace relationships and has respect from her colleagues for her fairness, good humor and willingness to do anything that is needed.

One final category which Ira represents is honor. Some of Ira’s pediatric patients die. It is the difficult side to her job. She is invited by her patient to their Make-A-Wish events as their honored guests. She celebrates sibling presence because she knows that every second together counts for her families when time is short. When her patients die, she grieves with the families. Ira attends funerals and supports families long after their child’s death. She knows it is what the families need to honor their child and that care continues even after treatments are done.

We, the UW Pediatric Anesthesiology Radiation Oncology Team feel that Irawati Lam, RN deserves the UW Distinguished Staff Award because of her superior and sustained service to the mission of the university and her excellence, resourcefulness, innovation, integrity and humility that she shows us every day. We are honored to work alongside her in caring for patients.

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