Q&A with TEDxPasadenaWomen RISE speaker Hui-wen Sato

Tell us about who you are, where you’re from, what you do, and what makes you tick.

I live with my husband and two daughters in West LA. I’ve been working as a pediatric intensive care unit nurse for seven years. I’m passionate about having gritty, honest but ultimately uplifting conversations about life issues, be it relationships, parenthood, or in the case TEDx, the nursing profession.

What is something people might be surprised to know about you?

I come across as quiet and serious, but I love good pranks and have become notorious for pouring salt in coffee, and dumping water and flour on people from second-floor balconies. I love the shock factor because people don’t expect it from me!

What inspired you to give a talk at TEDxPasadenaWomen RISE?

Nurses do such meaningful and challenging work, and yet I remain perplexed at the sheer lack of nurse voices that speak honestly about the experiences we carry in our hearts. Nurses can teach so much to others about human connection. I wanted a nurse voice in the TED/TEDx library!

Tell us about your talk for TEDxPasadenaWomen RISE.

The title is “How Grief Enables Me to Endure as a Nurse.” Grief can be hard to navigate for nurses as caregivers because we’re always helping others. I wanted to take an honest but very different perspective about how grief can strengthen our resilience, even as we struggle through it in real ways.

What was your process like in preparing your speech for the big event? How did you choose what you wanted to share with the audience?

Conversations with other nurses, as well as my own unresolved experiences in wrestling with grief, were the inspiration for my message. I struggled to nail down my “big idea,” but once Heather (the executive director) encouraged me to simply speak deeply from my soul, I knew what I really wanted to say, and from there, the speech flowed.

What did you want viewers/listeners to walk away with after hearing what you had to say?

I wanted them to consider how the freedom to accept and go through the grief process can strengthen all of us. It doesn’t have to be something that destroys us, particularly those of us who live with grief on a regular basis.

What is a TED/TEDx Talk everyone should listen to and why? (Please provide a link to the talk!)

I love the TED Talk by Lucy Kalanithi, “What makes life worth living in the face of death.” Here is a woman who suffered what so many of us fear – the death of a dearly loved one – yet even in her pain, she has been able to impart inspiration and hope.

After having given a talk for TEDxPasadenaWomen, what project(s)/goal(s)/plan(s) do you have up next?

I will continue to blog for the American Journal of Nursing. I also have some upcoming speaking opportunities within my hospital, as well as with a local critical care nursing society at their annual Leadership Symposium, all along the lines of what I addressed in my TEDx Talk.

Do you feel any differently now that you have given a talk? Do you see your life changing in any way?

I have new confidence that I truly can find the words and courage to be the voice for nurses that I have longed to be. New opportunities are opening up for this and I am excited about the momentum going forward to continue speaking and writing about the incredible profession of nursing.

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