Educators & Parents
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Laura demonstrating the virtual nurse on computer screen for a young male patient in a hospital bed.
Laura Pfeifer
Hometown: Mankato, MN
Current City: Boston, MA
Education: BA, Computer Science and Spanish, Augustana College (Sioux Falls, SD); PhD student, Computer Science, Northeastern University
Hobbies: "I am hugely into cooking and baking. I also really love cycling and ride my bike to school as often as I can."
Fun Fact: Never heard of "computer science" until she attended college.

I developed a "virtual nurse" that helps hospital patients understand their medications and follow-up visits.

—Laura Pfeifer

Meet virtual nurse "Louise"
Laura developed an animated, interactive nurse that spends time with patients before they're discharged from the hospital. Not only does "Nurse Louise" help patients understand their diagnoses, medications, and follow-up visits, but she's kind, patient, and even changes her facial expressions depending on what she's been told. Patients aren't shy about asking her to repeat information, and she never makes them feel rushed.

Making a big difference in health care
Nearly 20% of patients discharged from hospitals are readmitted within 30 days. Sometimes it's because the patient didn't understand his or her medical instructions. Although there's no substitute for a real nurse, "An actual nurse averages less than eight minutes giving patients discharge instructions," says Laura, "whereas the virtual nurse will spend an hour or more."

What's her passion?
Empowering patients. Laura says that one of "the most rewarding experiences is seeing patients become less scared about asking their doctor or nurse questions. Talking with the virtual nurse allows them to take their time understanding their (often complex) health information, and also empowers them to talk with their doctors afterwards."

New ways to solve problems
"I work to discover new ways to solve problems," says Laura. "I really like being a part of a field that's relatively new, and constantly evolving."

Watch Laura on YouTube!