Understanding Exceptional Patient Care From an Early Age


"I make it my goal to make every patient laugh or smile, even for just a second."

It’s a familiar refrain among nurses, and one that rings especially true for me: “I knew that I wanted to be a nurse as far back as I can remember.”

Growing up, I spent a lot of time in hospitals. Far too much time, actually. My dad had a serious illness that began when I was four years old, so I witnessed first-hand the inner workings of medical care from a young age. My family and I spent weekends, holidays and summer vacations with Dad in the hospital. Most of the time my father received excellent medical attention, but there were a few notable, unfortunate occasions when we were unhappy with his care.

Those experiences gave me a unique perspective on the importance of excellent patient care, and cemented my growing belief that I could help. My father agreed, encouraging me to enroll in nursing school. Not long after my acceptance, my dad noticed that Roswell Park was looking for hospital clinical assistants. He thought this would help me learn hands-on experience while attending nursing school. I had never treated cancer patients before, but I was willing to give it a shot. From the time I walked into the lobby for my first interview, I fell in love.

There is such an environment of hope at Roswell Park and the personal care that we provide is unparalleled. In this job, you sometimes see people at their physical and mental worst, but we work together to get them back to their best. I make it my goal to make every patient laugh or smile, even for just a second — because in that second they aren’t thinking about why they are here.

Nine years later, I am so pleased and humbled to receive the DAISY Award, especially from the patient who nominated me. This particular patient is on a clinical trial and visits the hospital about once per week for treatment. I always look forward to seeing her. 

When we initially met, she presented a tough exterior and liked to think of herself as Superwoman. However, as we got to know each other, she felt more comfortable around me and I gradually got her to open up. We learned a lot about each other’s lives and formed a connection. Even so, I was taken aback when I discovered I’d not only be receiving the DAISY Award, but that she was the nominating patient.

I certainly didn’t get into nursing for awards — I entered this field to help others and provide the best possible care. It’s wonderful to know I’ve been able to impact even just one person.