Laura Licea joined Seattle Children’s in July 2023 as vice president (VP) of Perioperative and Procedural Services and associate chief nursing officer. She brings a fresh perspective and an extensive background in the operating room (OR) from her previous roles at organizations such as UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals.
Licea’s goals include Seattle Children’s becoming a center of excellence for perioperative services. She also invests in people by mentoring and helping develop the next generation of leaders. This combination of ambitious goals and a human touch make her the right leader at the right time.
On the Pulse spoke with Licea to learn more about her, including why she chose Seattle Children’s, what she appreciates most about her team and what she’s enjoying about Seattle.
Tell me about your career path and what brought you to Seattle Children’s.
Licea: I am a nurse by trade. I started my career over 23 years ago. I’ve served in every role in perioperative services, from circulating to scrubbing to charge nurse to OR manager to OR director, then executive director and now VP.
I came to Seattle for this position. Seattle Children’s was my hospital of choice. I’ve heard many great things about Seattle Children’s, so when this opportunity arose, I jumped at it.
What made Seattle Children’s your hospital of choice?
Licea: I want to be part of this amazing team, help improve Perioperative Services and home in on how we can better serve our community. Also, one of Seattle Children’s great attributes is the volume of research we do to provide cures for the community.
Please describe your role.
Licea: In a nutshell, my role is to ensure that every child scheduled for surgery or a procedure has the best quality care. I oversee all perioperative services at the hospital campus and Seattle Children’s Bellevue Clinic and Surgery Center. That includes Gastroenterology, the Sterile Processing Department and Central Supply.
My day-to-day work also includes budgeting, OR scheduling, staffing and developing new leaders.
What do you appreciate most about your team?
Licea: They’re dedicated, motivated and eager to grow. I truly enjoy spending time with them getting to know what’s working, what’s not working and learning where they see themselves career-wise in five years.
One of the things I enjoy most is helping develop new leaders. Seeing them grow and transition from novice leaders into subject matter experts provides me great joy. I love being by their sides as a mentor.
Has mentorship been part of your previous roles?
Licea: Yes, I have mentored many leaders. One of them from my previous role was an OR manager who became the chief nursing officer of another organization she went to work for. I was very proud of helping her through her journey. I love paying it forward for the next generation of leaders.
Tell me about an achievement you’re proud of.
Licea: In one of my previous roles, I was designated as a Leader of the Year in both culture of safety and Gallup employee engagement scores. In another role, over 50% of the perioperative nurses got CNOR certified, and we held on to that designation for five years. That was a great accomplishment. I was also able to establish a pathway for nurses to enter the perioperative specialty. Those are accomplishments I’m proud of.
How does your nursing background help in this role?
Licea: I’m able to relate to both the staff and the surgeons. When they’re facing something challenging, I can relate because I have lived it, and I can home in on what they’re experiencing and have personal communication. That also correlates with the Emergency Department and Intensive Care Units — since I was a floor nurse, I understand their perspectives.
Being a nurse is a key component of success in this role. I not only understand the nursing aspects and the patient challenges but also the financial portion. Perioperative Services is the engine of the hospital, so it is in Seattle Children’s best interest to ensure we meet budget and are achieving operational excellence.
How do you like living in Seattle?
Licea: I moved here in July when Seattle was drop dead gorgeous. The summer months were amazing. I also enjoyed the fall. I love the different trails, the scenery and the ability to go to all these beautiful islands — that has been breathtaking for me. I still haven’t visited Mount Rainier, but that’s on my list of things to do next spring or summer.
Please share a little about your life outside work.
Licea: I have two dogs that are crucial to me. One is a Lhasa Apso and the other is a mixed Poodle. They’re senior dogs, but they’re my life. They’ve been with me since they were puppies.
I love to go on day trips. Also, my retirement home is in Florida, so any time I have vacation, I always try to visit Florida.
What’s your favorite thing about Seattle Children’s so far?
Licea: We have a beautiful facility. We have resources here that many other organizations do not have. I have also appreciated the tremendous welcome from all the other leaders in the organization.