One foot in front of the other. That’s the mindset Taylor Santangelo used to break two cross-country running records in high school, and what she thinks now as a clinical assistant in the pediatric intensive care unit when she faces children with acute and chronic conditions.
She wants to give the best care possible to children and their families one step, one day at a time. Santangelo hopes to start her nursing career in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Hospital after graduation with a BSN in May 2023.
“I feel called to work with that population because I love working with their families and being a small light in such a dark situation,” says Taylor Santangelo, bachelor of science in nursing candidate at the University of Colorado College of Nursing at the Anschutz Medical Campus.
“It’s difficult because they’re sick kids. While I can’t change the outcome of what’s happening to the child, I can provide them with the best care possible in the moment. Seeing the smiles of patients and family members when kids progress out of the intensive care unit to the floor makes the difficult times worth it.”
Running led Santangelo toward wanting to nurse young patients instead of adults. Her journey began in Minnesota where she attended nursing school. During the pandemic, she decided to move back to Colorado to be closer to her family. While she took college courses required to get into CU Nursing, she decided to help coach her old cross-country team at Holy Family High School in Broomfield where she still holds the fastest times for running one mile at 5:13 and two miles at 11:49.
Taylor Santangelo running when in high school.
“As the assistant coach for the girls’ team, I was able to build their confidence and it was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. The girls relied on me and came to me with all of their questions. Watching them succeed and evolve into leaders was amazing. That was the spark for pediatrics,” says Santangelo.
About the same time, she was working at Denver Health in the acute eating disorder unit with young women. She says that cemented her desire to work with youth. She also worked as a nurse extern at Swedish Medical Center in the trauma unit with adults. While she really enjoyed working with the families there, she says something clicked when she completed her last rotation at Children’s Hospital.
“The moment I stepped onto the floor, I knew working with kids is exactly where I want to be. I want to provide good, family-centered care and education for these families.”
Running also taught Santangelo to go the distance. And boy, has she ever. She is the president of the student council and has demonstrated such a commitment to caring for patients, families and her peers, she was awarded in 2022 the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nursing Students.
Taylor Santangelo accepts the 2022 DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nursing Students
“Taylor is a pioneer for all CU Anschutz Nursing students by setting an exemplary example of professional and responsible nursing care,” wrote Alex Morgan, BSN class of 2023 in her nomination for Santangelo.
“She excels in one-on-one interactions where she demonstrates humility and encouragement around her peers and supervisors. In working closely with Taylor, she advocates for patient rights the same as she supports all her classmates in achieving their fullest potential.”
While nursing school has limited Santangelo’s time spent running, she says the sport taught her everything she knows about teamwork.
“One of the things that I really enjoyed about running was the team aspect, which I also like about nursing. Running is a team sport and it’s an individual sport. That’s how nursing is. You have your own patients, you critically think by yourself, but when you need help you call on your team and your team is there to support you,” says Santangelo.
“Running also teaches discipline, time management and how to work hard. I’ve always been a person who gave 110% in sports, which benefited me as a student and will benefit me in the future as a nurse.”