A History of Achievements
UW HMONG-AMERICAN NURSE BRINGS HER COMMUNITY TO
THE DOCTOR'S OFFICE
Maichou Lor (Photo by: William Graf,
surrounding health care," says Lor, "not just among the Hmong population. It's the Cambodian population, the Laotian
population, a lot of Southeast Asian populations who have gone through the same kind of history that we have are also
Following the Vietnam War, Wisconsin became a hub for displaced Hmong from Southeast Asia immigrating to the United
States. The Hmong community is the largest Asian population in Wisconsin, which has the third-largest Hmong population,
behind California and Minnesota. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 54,000 Hmong lived in Wisconsin in
2015, nearly 20 percent of all Hmong in the country.
As an undergraduate nursing student at the UW, Lor partnered with three other Hmong students to try to survey the local
Hmong population about cancer screening. But the group found that written surveys, even if they only asked for true-false
answers, resulted in mostly blank responses.
"We ended up just reading the questions and having people raise their hands to respond, but we realized there's
contamination, because they just looked around at how others were responding," says Lor. "That was an 'aha' moment for
me, to realize we can't collect data from this population, and I'm sure there are other populations experiencing the same
Lor saw that without an effective way to ask Hmong about their health, there was no way to fully integrate them into the
health care system. In graduate school, she worked with an interdisciplinary group of mentors to create a data collection
tool that responded to the needs of the Hmong community.
MADISON - Nursing student Maichou Lor wanted to bring her fellow Hmong
community members out of the shadows and into the doctor's office.
Lor, who recently received her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison
School of Nursing, was born in a refugee camp in Thailand before her family
immigrated to Madison. As she pursued nursing, starting in high school, Lor
discovered that the Hmong immigrant community lacked access to major medical
care because low rates of literacy and English proficiency kept their health status
murky. In an interdisciplinary research program, Lor developed new survey tools
that respond to the needs of the Hmong, which she hopes can help close gaps in
access to care among her own community and other underserved populations.
Along the way, she became the first Hmong-American nurse to earn a Ph.D. in the
"Throughout my whole life, I saw a lot of inequalities and injustice in issues