MOORHEAD - If you have spent time in the hospital, there's a good chance you will remember the names and faces of the caring nurses before you recall a physician who stopped by.

And if you just happen to have registered nurse Emily Paulson take care of you, it will be a visit you won't forget.

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WDAY reporter Kevin Wallevand has followed Emily since she was a toddler. Born with a rare medical condition, the Moorhead girl has defied the odds all along the way.

And now she works, where her life was saved. At 25, Emily Paulson has her dream job.

"How are you today," said Emily Paulson, Sanford RN.

Working with patients recovering from neck and back surgery on Sanford's neuro floor.

"I love it all, I love all my co-workers, on this unit, they always inspire me to be a better nurse every single day," said Paulson.

Actually, Emily's life story started here in 1991. When, at birth, a team worked to save Emily and get an airway going, when it was discovered she had Treacher Collins Syndrome. A genetic disorder that impacts the jaw, chin, ears and mouth. 20-surgeries later, Emily has taken life by the horns, and with a supportive family and community, not only survived, but thrived.

She appeared on national talk shows back in the 90's. The front page of newspapers, and always, always active in school. From orchestra to dance and skating.

"My friends were always there for me, I was never bullied or made fun of," said Paulson.

Even as a youngster, Emily was interested in medicine.

"How are you feeling?" said Paulson.

And that brings us back to second floor at Sanford, where Emily tells us she would work every day if she could.

"I think knowing what the patients have gone through because of what i have been through. At times," said Paulson.

And patients like Phyllis Trelfa are impressed with how Emily has persevered.

"She is just this beautiful inner-self, who would not want her as a nurse? She is just that sweet as a nurse needs to do," Trelfa said.

And Emily does not miss a yearly conference for kids living with Treacher Collins. Now she is their rock star, mentor.

"No matter what you look like, you can do what you want to do, a nurse, a doctor, a teacher, you can still live your life normally," said Paulson.

Proof is in the pudding. Emily's peers recently gave her a Star of Nursing Award.

"Does that help a little bit," said Paulson.

The little girl who spent the first part of her life in the NICU here, now back, caring for those who will heal, knowing their nurse has been there, and then some.

I like to be happy, and make other people happy. I don't like being sad or negative about anything.

Emily has been a nurse at Sanford for nearly a year.