Caring for a patient’s body while loving their souls earns SNICU nurse DAISY Award
Natalie Aunan tries to treat all her patients as if they’re family members.
“Looking at each patient and remembering that they’re someone’s loved one helps prioritize providing compassionate care to them. How would I want my family member to be treated in that situation?”
Aunan, BSN, RN—who’s worked in the Surgical and Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit (SNICU) for two years—addressed that question in a particularly poignant way when a patient was admitted to the SNICU with severe brain damage following an accident. The family chose to place their loved one in palliative care, where he remained until his death. For the patient’s family, Aunan was a godsend.
“She loved my dad just like he was her own,” says the patient’s daughter. “He never went without anything under her care, and she made sure he was always comfortable. Natalie cares for her patients’ broken bodies, but she loves their souls. I will forever be grateful that my dad was taken care of by the best.”
The praise of Aunan’s excellent care led to Aunan being honored with a DAISY Award.
A role model for compassionate care
The family who nominated Aunan for a DAISY Award wrote in their nomination letter, Aunan’s “grace and respect for her patients breathes life into her unit.”
Those words help motivate Aunan to provide the most compassionate care possible.
“I remember that patient like it was yesterday,” she says. “I took care of him for about four days. I picked up an extra day of work just so I could see him through. I do pretty well at keeping a stable work-life balance—I realize that I’m there to provide care for them and need to have a strong face for them. But this was a tough one.”
She recalls how her coworkers offered immediate support after the patient passed away. Aunan finds comfort in her loved ones, her dog, and exercising when she can.
“I’m so grateful for everything I have. Difficult things happen and sometimes it makes you appreciate every little thing in life just a bit more,” she says.
Even though Aunan is only two years into her career, her dedication to learning more about caring for a patient’s emotional well-being shows in the kind words of her patients. She hopes to lead by example for new nurses when they’re looking to better understand the importance of compassionate care.
“Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. It doesn’t really matter what landed them here or what their previous story was. It’s a matter of looking at every single patient with a fresh set of eyes,” she says. “Providing the most holistic care really has a major impact on our patients, their families, and their outcomes.”