‘A big step’: How Kayla Kenady found her passion in the PICU

Kayla Kennedy photo

Never in her wildest dreams did Kayla Kenady, RN, expect to become a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) nurse.

“If you had asked me two months before I decided to go to the PICU, I would’ve said, ‘Nope, no thank you, that’s not for me.’”

And yet, while working on an acute medical surgical unit, Kenady’s team was often called to help with the busy PICU during respiratory season.

“I found myself having to staff in PICU frequently. After a handful of shifts I began to feel this magnetic pull inside and I caught myself thinking “I want to go back there,” she says.

A loving touch

She says her patients require her undivided attention and affection, and she is happy to provide that loving touch. In one unique situation, she held and comforted a child in the final moments of his life until his parents could arrive.

“I think sometimes people forget that past the lines, tubes, machines, drips and dressings, they’re still a kid,” says Kenady. “They need extra love, compassion, and affection.”

And that’s why Kenady sees her role as a special calling. She says the job requires a combination of medical skills and the ability to be vulnerable with young patients.

“You have to realize and accept that out of all of the bad things that can happen, you also see the miracles,” she says. “I have seen kids survive situations we all thought were impossible.”

Award recognizes long-held dream

Another reason Kenady was drawn to the PICU was the wise and warm staff.

“To be able to help a co-worker with the hands-on part of the job is wonderful, but having a co-worker help you keep yourself together during a difficult time is a whole other level of team work and support,” says Kenady.

For compassion, for caring, and for wrapping her young patients in love, Kenady received the DAISY Award.

“I always thought when I started my job, if I ever get that kind of an award, I would be so honored and excited,” says Kenady. “It’s only something I’ve dreamed about. I feel very blessed.”