Family bond is at the root of nurse’s DAISY Award
By Lana Sweeten-Shults
GCU News Bureau
John Catania had it all figured out.
He was going to be a program engineer. So he packed his schedule with digital drafting and took 3D printing classes. He received his technician certification, too – and an internship.
But when he started to get into the thick of his engineering program, he just didn’t have a passion for it.
“I was almost finished with my engineering degree and decided it wasn’t for me,” the Grand Canyon University online master’s degree student said from his home in Port Charlotte, Fla. “I went home and thought long and hard. I wanted to do something with my hands every day; I wanted to help people.”
After talking to one of his friends who worked as a registered nurse in an emergency unit, something clicked.
Catania switched to nursing and began his master’s program in January to become an acute care nurse practitioner.
He also recently won the DAISY Award, a national honor that recognizes extraordinary nurses.
“I remember the family that nominated me,” he said. He answered their questions as best he could, called physicians to ensure they met with the family, spoke with all the family members and updated them on what was going on.
If you ask Catania, he’ll tell you he didn’t really feel as if he did anything that day aside from his normal duties as a nurse. But it was that compassion, genuineness, empathy and the time he spent with the family that impressed them so much – enough to nominate him for the award.
DAISY is an acronym for Diseases Attacking the Immune System. The DAISY Award was established in 1999 by the DAISY Foundation in memory of J. Patrick Barnes, who died at age 33 of an auto-immune disease. The Barnes Family, inspired by the nurses who cared for Patrick, created the award to recognize the exceptional work nurses do.
Anyone can nominate a nurse for the award. The award committee selects a nurse who establishes a special connection with a patient/family; has significantly made a difference in the life of a patient; shows empathy; is an outstanding role model for the nursing profession; and generates enthusiasm and energy toward meeting the challenges of nursing.
Nursing isn’t a profession that runs in Catania’s family. His father worked in the air conditioning field and his family members, for many years, were seasonal residents, moving according to job demands.
His father in later years could not work because of a job-related injury, which meant a tight budget for the family. Catania worked various entry-level jobs after he graduated from high school to help out the family while also taking classes in engineering and then, when he made the switch, nursing.
Soon after receiving his associate’s degree in nursing, he began working at Bayfront Health in 2014. He was promoted to charge nurse in 2016, the same year he graduated from Florida Southwestern State College with his bachelor of science degree in nursing.
Catania decided management wasn’t for him and works these days in Bayfront’s intensive care unit while taking GCU online classes for acute care nursing.
Patients are placed in acute care for short-term treatment after a severe injury or episode of illness, urgent medical condition or during recovery from surgery.
Catania wasn’t sure what would happen those many years ago when he decided to change his career track. But he thought back to that one moment he knew he was going in the right direction.
“I’d just gotten moved to the ICU,” he said. “I think we were overstaffed that day, so they had me go from floor to floor and just check on everybody. There was this older gentleman who was just discharged and ready to go home. All he kept talking about was how he wanted to go to his grandson’s birthday party that weekend.”
But it looked as if that wish was not to be. Although nothing showed up in hospital tests and he was being discharged, the patient suddenly had a heart attack.
“Because I was from the ICU, I was the one running code at the time. I made all the right calls, even in the heat of the moment. … We were so on the ball.”
That was on a Monday.
By Thursday, all the patient’s symptoms were resolved, and he made it to his grandson’s birthday.
At that moment, Catania knew he had done what GCU hopes all of its students do, which is find their passion, and ultimately, their purpose: “That let me know I made the right decision.”
Contact GCU senior writer Lana Sweeten-Shults at [email protected] or at 602-639-7901.
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