Ask an Antelope: Anne Lano provides compassionate care for UNK students

Anne Lano is finishing her first year as the nursing director in UNK Student Health. The Kearney native studied at UNK before earning two degrees from the University of Nebraska Medical Center – a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2010 and Master of Science in Nursing in 2020.

Why did you choose this career path?
I never had a clear vision of what I wanted to be when I “grew up.” I swayed and dabbled with this and that but nothing would stick. I have always, however, had a heart for the less fortunate and thought I might work in developing countries someday.

My dad passed away from colon cancer when I was 20 and that about stripped me to my core. I moved home to be with my mom and felt even less sure about the direction of my life.

After a while, to fill the time, I signed up for two classes at UNK: Intro to Ethics and Intro to Voice. A particular book and discussion in the ethics class resonated with me – “Cancer Ward” by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. The professor posed a question to the class about a doctor in the book who was skilled, yet unkind: “Is someone a good doctor if they possess the skills but lack empathy, as evidenced by their bedside manner?” The majority of the class agreed that skill was the most important factor. However, I couldn’t help but disagree.

I had memories of my dad, who was truly a good doctor. He genuinely cared for his patients, was compassionate and highly skilled. This is when I started to consider pursuing something in health care. Something clicked when I thought about being able to serve people holistically – body, mind and spirit.

Why did you decide to work at UNK?
It may sound cliché, but this job truly found me, and I am so grateful. Initially, I wasn’t actively searching and even politely declined when the opportunity was casually mentioned. However, as time passed, circumstances aligned and the desire to be here grew. My interactions with my now-boss, Wendy Schardt, and the hiring committee were nothing short of exceptional. I recall being consistently impressed by the conversations and communication I experienced.

How do you serve students in your role?
Overall, I want to help establish and manage a student clinic that exemplifies excellence. I want students to feel confident that we genuinely care for them and are here to support them. I want our clinic to be a safe and comfortable environment where students seek medical care with ease.

I also am fully aware of the complexity and shortcomings of the health care system. I want to be a place to encourage and educate students in their medical literacy. Currently, we are integrating the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s “Ask Me 3: Good Questions for Your Good Health” initiative, which promotes students to take a moment, ask questions and truly comprehend their diagnosis, treatment and recommendations. I love it.

What services does Student Health provide?
Our clinic is staffed with full- and part-time providers who can evaluate and treat a wide range of health concerns and illnesses. We are similar to an urgent care or family practice clinic, offering services such as:

  • Assessment and treatment of acute and chronic illnesses.
  • Minor procedures (e.g., ingrown toenail removal, cyst drainage, simple sutures and cryotherapy).
  • Physical examinations (including general wellness checks for men and women, sports physicals and travel).
  • Prescription and medication management.
  • Basic laboratory services.
  • Vaccinations and allergy injections.

I always emphasize that Student Health is the perfect starting point for any health care needs. If a student’s needs exceed what we can provide, we will guide them in the right direction and help secure the necessary referrals to ensure they receive the right care.

What’s the most enjoyable part of your job?
One thing I love and appreciate is working at a clinic where our focus is not on rushing through 30-40 patients daily. Instead, we prioritize giving each student the time they need during their appointments, ensuring they feel heard, well-treated and educated about their health.

Additionally, I love my team. They’re so fun to work with. I also love that we all share the same values and commitment to providing the best possible care for our student community.

Share a fun fact about yourself:
My husband and I have three kids and two dogs. It’s fun and wild, and sometimes a little exhausting.

I am Korean American, an adoptee. I was adopted at 5 by the best family here in Kearney. A few years ago, with the help of my adoption agency, I was able to contact my birth mother. I learned my birth father was a woodworker, injured his hand and died of tetanus before I was born. (Get your tetanus shots!) It’s been quite the ride but I’m grateful for the knowledge and personal development that has come with it.

I was trying to think of something super unique but maybe I should have gone with … I have no tattoos, used to have a nose ring and have a thing for Sour Skittles?! There you have it, a few unique tidbits about me!

“Ask an Antelope” is a Q&A series highlighting UNK faculty and staff and their impact on the campus and community.