Larry LaRue

Larry LaRue: Tacoma home getting 3 nursing degrees in a year

The Clover Park nursing program was overrun with Lotts in recent months, and three will take part in upcoming pinning ceremonies. Mom Kristi, center, will get her registered nurse pin, and daughters Celeste, left, and Kristina, right, will get license practical nurse pins.
The Clover Park nursing program was overrun with Lotts in recent months, and three will take part in upcoming pinning ceremonies. Mom Kristi, center, will get her registered nurse pin, and daughters Celeste, left, and Kristina, right, will get license practical nurse pins. Courtesy of the Lott family

Instructors in the Clover Park Technical College nursing program could be forgiven if they confused the names of all students named “Lott” over the last year.

There were, after all, three of them — Kristi, Celeste and Kristina.

“The girls attended morning sessions, I had the afternoon sessions,” said Kristi Lott, mother of Celeste, Kristina and three other daughters, all of whom live in Tacoma.

Celeste, 27, and Kristina, 25, were in classes together “76 percent of the time,” Kristina said, and both spent time on the dean’s list and president’s list for their high grade point averages.

The Lott sisters will be together at a Sept. 1 ceremony to receive diplomas and pins certifying them as licensed practical nurses. Their mom, who has been an LPN since 1999, will have her ceremony Tuesday — and she’ll get a registered nurse pin.

She is proud of Celeste and Kristina, will even admit to being proud of herself for going back to school after more than 15 years.

But Kristi said the Lott nursing production line may not be finished.

“I have three other daughters,” she said. “Haley is 23, tried nursing and it didn’t work for her, so she’s now in business administration. Alexis, 17, goes to Stadium High School, and Camille, who’s nine, goes to Elmhurst Elementary.

“I think the two youngest may be nurses. They love helping people — and animals. Every stray creature they find, I wind up with.”

When it comes to their nursing futures, Celeste and Kristina want to become RNs.

What’s the difference between LPN and RN? For starters, the median salary — $41,000 for an LPN, $65,000 for an RN.

An LPN can do basic nursing care, such as taking a patient’s blood pressure or inserting a catheter, and many work in long-term care facilities.

An RN can administer medications, conduct diagnostic tests and oversee LPNs. They have more career options, from working in hospital emergency rooms to becoming operating room specialists.

The daughters credit their mother for fueling their desire for advancement.

“Mom is the whole reason we did this shindig,” Kristina said. “It’s a good tribute to mom; she’s why we decided to become nurses. Her heart is huge, and she never wants acknowledgement, but we’re proud to follow her.”

Now, yes. Earlier, not so much.

“She started us in the health care system by getting us jobs in the kitchen where she worked at Queen Anne Healthcare in Seattle,” Celeste said. “We were about 16 and positioned plates and cups on a tray before meals, then washed dishes.”

Glamorous, it wasn’t. Effective, it was.

“I was a firm believer that nobody gives you anything, and I tried to instill a good work ethic in the girls,” Kristi said. “They started as low man on the totem pole, but it was a job, and they got to see what went on in a health care center.”

As for being her daughters’ inspiration?

“The only thing I can attribute that to is, I’ve been at the same job, same profession for a long time,” she said. “They’ve seen it makes me happy.”

The Lott house always seemed happy, though there were difficult times. Kristi has raised, and is still raising, daughters without a father in the home.

“I promised my dad when I was through having all these girls, I would return to school when my youngest was established in school,” Kristi said. “I did that. My dad lives in Louisiana, but he and mom are flying out for the ceremony. My father will pin me.”

There will be state board exams for all three after the ceremonies, and Kristi and Kristina will keep their jobs at Avamere, which bought out Queen Anne Healthcare. Celeste has been working at a Tacoma nursing home, Heartwood, as a certified nursing assistant. She hopes to get a job there as an LPN.

“Mom never pushed us toward nursing or college, let us each make up our mind,” Celeste said. “Kristina and I have some of the same traits mom has: patience, a very outgoing nature and the desire to help people.

“Following her footsteps was natural.”

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