Caylee Donovan

Caylee wearing her nursing scrubs holding a graduation cap and a photo of her late child

"I found out I’d received the Marcia J. Aitkens Memorial Bursary in Practical Nursing in the middle of lab. I was so shocked I pretty much dropped to the floor. 

At the time, I was a full-time student in Okanagan College’s Practical Nursing program, and I was working up to five days a week. The workload was just too much to handle, especially as a mother of a child with special needs. My eleven-year-old had recently been diagnosed with autism and needed more of my time. 

Receiving the award allowed me to reduce my work hours and focus on my education and my family. 

I have four children. Two who live with me, one who’s out on his own, and my angel baby – Gracie. 

Gracie was somewhat medically fragile, so we had lots of interactions with healthcare teams in the three and a half years I had with her. She was nonverbal and had developmental delays due to a rare chromosome syndrome. 

We were regulars at the hospital because when she got a cold or flu, she stopped drinking. So, she often needed to be put on IV fluids. 

Almost every interaction we had with the healthcare system was really respectful towards her. 

One time, one of Gracie’s nurses asked if a group of 4th-year nursing students could put in her catheter and an NG tube. I kind of fought them, Gracie was so fragile, and I wanted to protect her. But after the nurse talked to me for a bit, I decided to let them, and the students were really amazing. They were perfect. 

Almost a year later, Gracie ended up in the Pediatric ICU with H1N1. One of the student nurses who put in the catheter came to visit her. He was awesome, and it meant everything to me that he cared enough to come see her. He remembered Gracie as the happy, bright-eyed, Dora-loving, giggling little girl I knew. The nurses in the Pediatric ICU had never seen that side of her. They saw an intubated Gracie, who slept 24 hours a day. 

My thing is that I’ve been in the healthcare system, and I’ve navigated it; it’s hard on families. So, I can empathize. I can understand what they’re going through. That’s why I’m so passionate about being a nurse; I know how much of a difference nurses can make. I want to work in hospice because I know that’s where I can be of most help. 

I always say I would pretty much nurse for free because it’s not about the money. If I can make my patient or their family have a little bit of a smile, a second of a break where they feel good, then my day is made, and I’ve done my job.”

Published By College Relations on September 1, 2022