PICU nurse builds bond with patients and families



PICU Grace Ryan wins DAISY

Grace Ryan wins a DAISY award in the first year of her nursing career for her compassionate care.

By Maureen Gilmer, Riley Children’s Health senior writer, mgilmer1@iuhealth.org

Grace Ryan came all the way from Los Angeles to go to nursing school at Indiana University Bloomington, and she has never looked back.

“I really liked their nursing program, and I wanted to get out of L.A. for a while,” she said. “I ended up loving it here.”

Ryan, who worked as a tech in the transplant unit at IU Health University Hospital while in school, began her pediatric nursing career at Riley Hospital for Children last August.

A nurse in the pediatric intensive care unit for just eight months, she has already been nominated for and received a DAISY award, signifying exceptional care and compassion for her patients, who are critically ill.

Ryan was surprised with the award last week during the early morning presentation on the PICU.

PICU Grace Ryan wins DAISY

“I was holding back tears,” she said, as she reflected on the patient whose mother had nominated Ryan for the DAISY. “It was really special to me, especially coming from that family.”

The cancer patient passed away, but not before Ryan bonded with her and her mom and helped plan an early birthday party with a mermaid theme.

“In just three short weeks, she got to know me and my daughter so well, and I could feel how much she truly cared from the day we met her,” the patient’s mom said. “She held me while I cried and let me share all my stories … because she knew that made me feel better.”

PICU Grace Ryan wins DAISY

Ryan also was a strong advocate for her daughter, the woman said, taking care of her medical needs while also going above and beyond to care for her in other ways – painting her nails, putting on her favorite movies and rubbing her little head because she loved it.

“I met a lot of nurses in the year my daughter had cancer, and you don’t meet a nurse like Grace every day.”

For Ryan, that patient and so many others will always hold a place in her heart.

And while it’s humbling to be recognized with a DAISY after such a loss, she said, the team around her held her up.

“I have so much support on this unit from co-workers, chaplains, social work and everyone,” Ryan said. “That is a big component of why I feel so at peace. I could not have done it without all of them.”

PICU Grace Ryan wins DAISY

Ryan, who graduated from IU Bloomington last May, was drawn to pediatrics after doing her clinicals at Riley.

“I loved it so much and already knew I liked the ICU.”

As hard as it is, the PICU is the best of both worlds, she said.

Outside of the hospital, Ryan enjoys yoga, cooking and reading.

“I’ve been reading a lot of nursing books and others dealing with death and critical care experiences,” she said. “We deal with that so much, and I want to educate myself more.”

Nominate a nurse who exemplifies excellent clinical skills and compassionate care.