Category: School of Nursing

University of Delaware alumna Jennifer Peticacis poses for a photo with her ChristianaCare colleagues, holding up a green banner congratuliating her on winning the DAISY Award, which recognizes nurses for their compassionate care.
University of Delaware School of Nursing alumna Jennifer Peticacis (center) stands with her ChristianaCare colleagues after winning the DAISY Award, which recognizes nurses who go above and beyond to provide patients and families with excellence in clinical and compassionate care.

School of Nursing alumna wins international award

November 06, 2023 Written by Amy Cherry | Photos submitted by Jennifer Peticacis

ChristianaCare labor and delivery RN receives DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses

Jennifer Peticacis had just come off a 12-hour night shift in the labor and delivery unit at ChristianaCare Hospital when her manager asked to see her. She arrived at the morning huddle to see a large group celebrating her.

Peticacis, a University of Delaware School of Nursing (SON) alumna, was recently awarded the DAISY Award. The international honor from the Daisy Foundation allows patients, families, and co-workers to express gratitude to nurses for providing compassionate care.

“I was not expecting it at all because I’m relatively new, so it was definitely shocking,” Peticacis said. “But I always have a positive attitude, and I love working with women and babies and being that extra positive boost for patients and their families during their time in the hospital.”

Peticacis, who graduated from UD SON in 2021 and joined ChristianaCare’s Labor and Delivery Nurse Residency program that same year, was nominated for the award by a patient’s husband after his wife was admitted for severe preeclampsia.

According to ChristianaCare, in the application, the nominator wrote, “Jenn was fantastic in making sure my wife was cared for and doing well. Thank you for allowing my wife and I to have a pleasant experience in a moment where we weren’t sure what to expect.”

Peticacis remembers they were scared.

“I really took the time to explain all the medications,” Peticacis said. “For nurses, it’s like second nature, but we must remember, it’s such a new experience for our patients. I took the time with them to ensure they understood everything and that all their questions were answered.” 

Jennifer Peticacis, a 2021 graduate of the School of Nursing who's now a registered nurse at ChristianaCare, always comes to work with a positive attitude and loves working with women and babies in the labor and delivery unit.

She stressed the importance of building trust with patients and their support person.

“The support from a family member or loved one is so important,” Peticacis said. “So, I always try to include them in my conversations and ensure they understand. Because the patient will rely on them and if they’re stressed or scared, it will rub off on the patient and could have a negative effect on their overall experience.”

Peticacis was inspired to become a nurse after her mother died from ALS when she was young.

“My sister and I had firsthand experience caring for her and watching those who cared for her,” she said. “It made me want to be in that environment – helping patients and their families.”

Advocating for patients was the number one skill she learned from her time at UD SON.

“In labor and delivery, we deal with women who are in so much pain and suffering, even with epidurals. It’s all about listening to the patient,” Peticacis said. “It can feel like a lot of weight on you emotionally, but UD prepared me to listen to the patient and the symptoms they’re describing; their pain is real. It’s important to make a connection and build trust with a patient. If they’re saying something’s wrong, or they don’t feel right, you need to relay that to the doctor so they can receive the best care.”

She also learned to take care of herself.

“It’s a physically and emotionally demanding job, so you need to take time for yourself and have hobbies you enjoy doing so you can release that stress and take your mind off work,” she said. “UD stressed that by caring for yourself, you can be a better nurse and avoid burnout.” 

Elizabeth Speakman, senior associate dean for the School of Nursing, said it’s wonderful to see a UD-educated nurse recognized so early in her career.

“We are so proud of Jenn,” Speakman said. “She truly exemplifies what we hope all our graduates become -- the nurse who, during a patient's most challenging moment, provides excellent and compassionate care.” 

For Peticacis, winning the DAISY Award reinforced that she chose the right career.

“At times, as nurses, we forget that this is a patient’s big experience, and they’re going to remember it forever,” she said. “We have so much weight in their story, and it can get lost how vital we are in their story. So, it means a lot to me that this family appreciated the role I played in their story and that they’ll remember what can be a scary and anxiety-inducing experience in a positive way.

“We don’t do it for recognition, but when we get that positive feedback and see our positive impact as nurses, it makes a difference.” 

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