Photo of Kaycee Nickell

Kaycee Nickell '13: Comfort, Cure, & Save

By Angela Grossmann-Roewe '98

Like mother, like daughter - that’s the case in Kaycee Nickell’s journey into the master’s of nursing administration program at McKendree University’s Louisville campus.

Kaycee exemplifies helping others to the fullest extent through her profession by caring for the most innocent people – sick and scared children. This registered nurse spends her days, and nights, working alongside surgeons in the pediatric surgery department at the Norton Healthcare and Kosair Children's Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. And her work to better children’s lives doesn’t end there. Kaycee is currently creating a child abuse algorithm for operating nurses to refer to when they see a child with suspicious injuries or markings.

“When I came to the operating room from the emergency department I noticed a lack of education of pediatric abusive head trauma and other non-accidental trauma,” she said. “I have advocated for increased awareness and devoted my time to educating the staff around this matter.

“I always wanted to work with children,” she continued. “To be honest, I never had any desire to work with adults. I was a babysitter growing up and I think my love for children stems from that.”

Kaycee says her mother, who is also a registered nurse, played an instrumental role in her own decision to become a nurse. “I always thought her work was exciting,” Kaycee said. “She continues to motivate and inspire me to be a better nurse, role model, and person today.”

In August 2010, Kaycee felt she needed to advance her career, so she turned to her mentor and biggest advocate – her mother. “My mother suggested McKendree,” said Kaycee, who is scheduled to graduate in May. “She is in the nursing education field, and had heard great things about the University.” Her mother - who even taught classes after Kaycee enrolled there - was correct about the University’s reputation, she said, because “it was affordable, close to home, easily accessible, and everyone on campus was kind, friendly, and helpful,” which made Kaycee feel right at home.

Working while going to school and completing clinical hours has been difficult for Kaycee, but she says those around her have been supportive. Not only has her family been “unbelievably amazing,” but so have professors Dr. Mary Ann Thompson and Dr. Richelle Rennegarbe. “They are so helpful and really want their students to succeed,” she said. “They are available to help in any way possible, even giving out their phone numbers, and they actually expect you to call if you have questions.”

And, she does call because she knows there are hundred of little ones who will depend on her in her years to come – to comfort, cure, and save them. And, in turn, Kaycee will be ready.