Born in 1939 in Cleveland, Ohio, Pauline F. Thomassen, RN, dreamed of becoming a nurse for as long as she could remember. Galvanized by a traumatic experience with a high school guidance counselor who told her that she would never amount to anything, Ms. Thomassen doubled down on pursuing her dream of a career in medicine, working overtime and borrowing money from her mother in order to pay for nursing school. She enrolled at Southern Colorado State College, earning an Associate of Arts in nursing in 1974, and received a tuition grant to continue her education at the school. The following year, Ms. Thomassen completed a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and relocated to the Seattle, Washington, area to begin her medical career.
From 1975 until her retirement from the field in 2002, Ms. Thomassen worked at Swedish Hospital Medical Center of Seattle as a clinical spine educator. As a part of her dedication to ongoing professional growth and to remaining on the cutting edge of clinical knowledge, she returned to school at Seattle Pacific University in the 1980s, and was awarded a Bachelor of Science in nursing, magna cum laude, in 1986. Shortly after, she became a preceptor of student registered nurses and new staff registered nurses at Swedish Hospital Medical Center and was promoted to a staff nurse in the III Orthopedic Unit in addition to her instructional duties.
Throughout her professional career, Ms. Thomassen was active in the National Association of Orthopedic Nurses and developed a wide-ranging reputation as a leader in medical-surgical nursing. She has been extensively published in professional journals, authored “Spinal Disease and Surgical Interventions” in 1995, and contributed to “Making Sense of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery” in 1998. While she enjoyed significant professional growth and success over the course of her career, her greatest passion is sharing her skills with others as a form of educational and humanitarian outreach.
Ms. Thomassen has lectured to medical and nursing students as far away as Saint Petersburg, Russia, and Swaziland and has been invited to present workshops on degenerative lumbar spinal disease and treatments for the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and the University of Washington. She has also served on dozens of medical missions, both internationally and throughout the United States. Among her medical missions were trips to Mississippi in 2006 and 2007 to provide care to patients in communities affected by Hurricane Katrina, a 2001 project in conjunction with the Honolulu Police Department to staff a clinic for homeless children and youth, and several trips to areas in Mexico and the Philippines.
Ms. Thomassen is an active and involved member of her church community and has participated extensively in a number of church-sponsored charitable projects since her retirement. She has spent several summers as a volunteer camp nurse at Camp Li-WA, an evangelical Christian summer camp outside Anchorage, Alaska, and partners with the Atlantic Street Center, a Rainier Valley facility serving homeless families and youth. In recognition of her enduring success and commitment to service, she has been presented with the prestigious Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award, the Marquis Who’s Who Humanitarian Award, and profiled in numerous editions of Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in Medicine and Healthcare, Who’s Who in American Nursing, Who’s Who of American Women, and Who’s Who in the World spanning almost three decades. Ms. Thomassen married her husband, Ruben, in 1979, and together they were the proud parents of six children, grandparents to 15, great grandparents to 20, and great-great grandparents to five.