When she took on the job as an Anesthesia Clerk at Kuakini in 1990, Sophia Nakamura had no experience in the medical field. But 25 years later, she said the job feels like a calling.
"I really, truly believe that everybody is placed where they need to be," she said. "I think I'm placed here as a stabilizing, calming presence, to make things calmer when situations can be hectic in the department or elsewhere. That's just who I am."
Prior to coming to Kuakini, Sophia was an Assistant Supervisor at the Bank of Hawaii for 10 years. Today as an Anesthesia Clerk, she provides billing support to the Operating Room, Recovery Room and Anesthesia Services department. She also schedules cases for her department, and assists different departments requiring clerical expertise when asked.
"I like it here. The department has changed a lot since I came and I can see it getting better," she said. "The Anesthesia Technicians are my great help when doctors need things in the Operating Room in a hurry. We are all like family, everybody works as a team."
Sophia's nominator describes her as someone who goes beyond her expected duties. "She is well liked and does outstanding work. She is always pleasant in everything she does. She may not have patient contact a lot but she totally demonstrates the core values of Kuakini. She has an inner strength that touches people's (and) workers' hearts," her nominator said.
Sophia also goes out of her way to encourage and pray for patients or fellow employees. "When I see people doing good work, I send an email to Administration," she said. "I believe that people work hard and that they would feel proud of doing their work if they were recognized and encouraged."
This March, it was Sophia's turn to receive recognition as the Employee of the Month.
"I was overwhelmed. It's a different feeling for me because I would rather be giving the praise. It really hits my heart. Even though we know that we do good work, it's an honor to be recognized by other people," she said. "It's a heartfelt feeling of gratitude. I am thankful that I am here in Kuakini."
Besides work, Sophia sings at her church and coordinates activities and events for everyone – at church and work, and for her family and friends. She enjoys trying new restaurants or traveling out of town with her husband. They are planning to go on an Alaskan cruise in the future.