Kaiser Permanente hospital administrator wins North Bay Influential Women Award
Denise Laws’ professional journey began the day she graduated from Dominican University. Her nursing career has spanned assignments at Kaiser Permanente Medical Centers in both Santa Rosa and San Rafael and today includes serving as interim chief operating officer for Kaiser’s San Francisco medical center.
Over the years she has held several positions from assistant nurse manager to manager, director of education and informatics, director of coordination of care to becoming continuum administrator responsible for all care occurring outside hospital walls. In addition to being a registered nurse, she completed a Doctor of Nursing Practice program preparing leaders to improve patient outcomes and translate research into practice.
Is there a personal achievement you would like to share?
I assisted in evacuating hospital patients in Santa Rosa the night of the 2017 wildfire by placing two gentlemen in my car and driving them to San Rafael Kaiser when city buses were full. The weeks and months that followed were very challenging; both trying to reopen a hospital and support our staff at the same time.
What were the biggest obstacles you faced in your career?
Finding a nursing program accepting applicants was difficult when most schools were not enrolling new students. I was in Dominican College’s first graduation class after it affiliated with St. Lukes Hospital in San Francisco. The second was finding a job. I began my career as a per diem nurse after attending a new grad orientation at San Rafael Kaiser.
What advice would you give to those striving to be leaders in your profession?
Embrace continuous learning. Nurses are always learning about new technology, processes and innovative ways of caring for various illnesses. Have an authentic presence, a genuine expression of natural human awareness that is always open, clear and compassionate. Select one or two people you look up to who are working in the field you have chosen, ask them to mentor you and guide you as you begin your career.