<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=799546403794687&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">
Picture of a Daisy representing the DAISY organization

Compassionate Care

CU Nursing Alums Nominated for National DAISY Award

Written by Molly Smerika on May 22, 2024

Michelle Brower and Brigid Reilly spent just an hour or two with a patient back at the end of January.

That short amount of time made such a difference in that patient’s life. They made such an impact that he submitted their names to the DAISY Foundation for national recognition.


Recent CU Nursing alumna Michelle Brower

Brower was in her last semester as a student at the University of Colorado College of Nursing at Anschutz Medical Campus.  She graduated from the Traditional (TRAD) program on May 20, 2024.  Brower's preceptor was Brigid Reilly, who graduated from CU Nursing’s Accelerated (UCAN) program in December 2021 and works at UCHealth Longs Peak Hospital in Longmont.

“It’s so exciting to be nominated because sometimes I feel like ER nurses don’t get a lot of recognition since we often don’t spend a lot of time with our patients,” Reilly says. “I think it really means a lot that we were only with this patient for a short time, and he felt strongly enough to go out of his way to nominate us, so it’s special.”

The patient was at the hospital for a new catheter and didn’t have much knowledge about getting it replaced. Brower and Reilly grabbed extra supplies and demonstrated how to properly clean and change it.

“We helped address some fears and insecurities, so we took the extra time to go through what was making the patient nervous,” Brower says. “We took the extra time instead of just discharging the patient. The patient came in alone around 4 a.m., so we were taking our time, and listening to their concerns and making sure they were heard.”

The Preceptor-Student Relationship

Another special aspect of the nomination – it was one of the first shifts Reilly and Brower worked together.


CU Nursing alumna Brigid Reilly, BSN '21

“I barely imparted my wisdom on her,” Reilly joked. “I’ve been a nurse for two years and have never received an official nomination, so I think it’s awesome to see a nurse like Michelle get nominated so early in her career.”

Brower was assigned to Longs Peak Hospital for her senior immersion class and was paired up with Reilly for 15 shifts together (about five weeks). A student nurse will follow a preceptor for their shifts, learning what they do and having an opportunity to ask questions.

“If you have a good preceptor, they explain things to you and the best way to do things. Then later in the rotation, you (the student) take over – but not completely – and the preceptor will give you advice,” Brower says. “I would always ask questions, and Brigid always gave great advice and direction. Honestly, it made me a better nurse for the future.”

Reilly says she had a great preceptor experience during her new graduate orientation at Longs Peak Hospital. It made her want to become a preceptor herself and use her nursing skills to teach others.

“(Michelle) was the first time I was a preceptor for a student who doesn’t have much nursing experience,” Reilly says. “I remember being in Michelle’s position as a student, and things can be intimidating. It’s been nice to address fears that I had when I was in her position so she knows what the nursing profession will be like.”

Listening to Patients

Brower and Reilly say listening to patients is something nurses become comfortable with the more they interact with people.

Kind Words from Longs Peak Hospital

Mary Brill, BSN, RN, Nurse Manager at Longs Peak Hospital Emergency Department, reached out to CU Nursing with this to say about Michelle:


"During her time here, we have been fortunate enough to witness Michelle’s vibrant energy, inquisitive nature, and deep compassion for exceptional patient care. Getting to know her has truly been delightful. I am reaching out because I recently learned that Michelle and her preceptor, Brigid, received a DAISY nomination during Michelle's senior capstone. The patient who nominated them expressed deep gratitude for Michelle's kindness and gentle approach. They felt genuinely listened to and received the utmost care.


I was hoping you would be able to share the significance of her impact at our hospital. Finally, thank you (CU Nursing) for playing such a crucial role in developing the compassionate professionals our healthcare system needs."

“We were making jokes with this patient who nominated us for the DAISY Award, but you can’t have that type of relationship with every patient,” Reilly says. “You have to be able to read the room, read the patient, and make a connection in a short amount of time so you can give them the best care.”

“For the most part, it’s building that rapport and trust with a patient because then they’ll start talking to you, and when they talk to you, they’ll start saying stuff they didn’t say originally and you can find out more about their background,” Brower says. “It might lead you to find out other problems they’re facing or another reason why they’re in the hospital.”

Another aspect of being a nurse is advocating for their patients, which Brower and Reilly credit to their education at CU Nursing.

“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we’re both coming from CU Nursing and we’re nominated for the DAISY Award,” Brower says. “We both got good information from our teachers, our preceptors, and from our experiences. The clinical placements really gave us the best opportunities to give compassionate care.”

“It's essential to listen attentively to each patient so that we can effectively advocate for their needs and ensure they receive the best possible care,” Brower says. “This fundamental principle is deeply embedded in every aspect of the curriculum at the University of Colorado nursing program.”

Brower and Reilly will find out if they have been honored with a DAISY Award this summer.

Topics: Alumni