Transitioning a loved one to hospice care is one of the most emotionally charged scenarios in a healthcare setting. It’s often a gut-wrenching decision, and patients need caregivers who are both clinically competent and filled with compassion and understanding during such a challenging time. For one family at Banner Heart Hospital in Mesa, AZ, Annie Marsh, RN, was more than just their nurse. She was the strength they needed to finally make this very difficult decision — the right mix of nursing excellence.
With a surgeon for a father and a mother who worked as a critical care nurse, it’s safe to say that caregiving runs through Annie’s veins. But she didn’t start her career as a nurse. Before going to nursing school, she spent two years taking care of a woman with early-onset multiple sclerosis — loving every minute of it and learning what it means to care for someone with compassion, even when the decisions are tough.
It is that dedication to making patients and their families feel seen that makes Annie the kind of nurse patients remember. In October 2022, Annie received The DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses for going “far beyond the medical aspects” of care and comforting a family during “a very difficult time.”
“I was so honored to get the award. It was very unexpected. It was definitely a surprise. So I’m very thrilled for that. I am just grateful that they took the time to even recognize me.” — Annie Marsh
We talked to Annie about her DAISY nomination, what she feels are the biggest challenges for nurses today, the importance of recognizing caregivers, and what advice she has for those just starting out or considering a career in nursing.
Providing nursing excellence while “we’re hanging on for dear life”
Annie has been a floor nurse for about two years now, and it’s no secret that these past two years have been particularly challenging for the healthcare industry. With critical staffing shortages, it can be difficult for nurses to spend the time they want — and need — to spend with patients. In the case of the family that nominated Annie, she found the time.
“It was almost a duty. I felt that I had to step in and try to convince them that hospice was probably the best way to go … we didn’t want her to suffer. Making the whole process as easy and comfortable and peaceful as it could be, was pretty much my main focus for that
day.” — Annie Marsh
And it obviously didn’t go unnoticed by the family, which said it the nomination: “Annie made sure to give us space and peace, but she also checked on all of us regularly to offer whatever we needed.”
Providing this level of care is not an easy task in today’s healthcare environment, where there is rarely enough time or people to provide the care that nurses wish they could provide. Annie says the biggest challenge to nurses is an increase in the acuity of patients aligning with this historic shortage of nurses.
“You have to find the time to go into a patient room and listen to their story and give them their meds and do your assessment all within this short period of time because you have to get to your next patient. When your patients are not stable and you have more than one who needs your care, it’s definitely difficult to be there. We’re just all hanging on for dear life as much as we can and trying to make the best of it.” — Annie Marsh
With such a challenging working atmosphere, Annie says recognizing nurses through programs like the DAISY Award is so important.
“Nurses don’t get enough recognition for what we do every day, day in and day out. It made me want to come back the next day and work harder and still make a difference in these people’s lives, as hard as it is.” — Annie Marsh
Although Annie received her DAISY nomination for her individual contribution, she says being recognized in this way makes her want to work harder and do what she can to help her team, adding that while recognition is really special for that nurse, it really is about teamwork.
This is a point not lost on the family that nominated Annie for The DAISY Award. In their nomination, they made sure to recognize the entire team at Banner Heart Hospital. With such limited resources, it is more important than ever for nurses to support each other and to feel like their fellow nurses and teammates are there to support them.
Nursing excellence doesn’t happen by accident
Although Annie grew up knowing more about the healthcare field than the average person, she acknowledges that there are some aspects of nursing care that she didn’t realize she would be doing. She wishes people had a greater understanding of the collaboration and critical thinking that goes on throughout the day.
“Talking to case management and then insurance and the doctors and family, home health. It’s what we’re doing behind the scenes for the patient that they may not be seeing. I think that more people would probably give us a little bit more grace if they knew how much we were on the phone or trying to coordinate different levels of care. — Annie Marsh
Nursing is certainly not an easy profession. Annie doesn’t pretend that it is, and she strongly encourages new graduates or new nurses to find a mentor and talk to nurses or clinical staff about the struggles. Having someone who can guide you and answer questions just might be the key to success.
“You have to ask questions, you have to be a beginner to actually learn what goes on and then you can become better at it. In time, your confidence will grow, and you’re going to become all these seasoned nurses on the floor that seem to know exactly what to do at the right time.” — Annie Marsh
Despite the challenges that today’s nurses are facing, Annie remains positive and encourages those on the fence deciding if nursing is worth the hard work to go for it.
“Don’t be scared off by what’s going on. I think things are going to get better. I’m very hopeful for that. And we need nurses more than ever.” — Annie Marsh
Annie couldn’t be more correct — we need nurses more than ever, and more than ever, we need to appreciate the ones out there making a difference every day. Thank you Annie and congratulations for truly making a difference and being recognized with a DAISY Award!
About The DAISY Award
The DAISY Award is a recognition program run by the non-profit organization The DAISY Foundation™ (an acronym for Diseases Attacking the Immune SYstem), which seeks to honor nurses at any stage of their careers, in any role, and in any setting.
This includes student and faculty awards, team awards, nurse leader awards, lifetime achievement awards, and even awards honoring those nurses specifically addressing social determinants of health. All of this is done in memory of J. Patrick Barnes, who died from complications of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura in 1999 but received exceptional nursing care during his illness.
For more on The DAISY Award, please visit The DAISY Foundation’s website. Nominations can be submitted at the healthcare facility or via www.DAISYfoundation.org using Get Well’s best practice rounding tool, Rounds+. To make a nomination for a specific nurse who has provided compassionate care, complete the online nomination form today.
Read our other Get Well DAISY Honoree spotlight stories: