Ian Cady and his peers presenting his award
By Nicole San Roman

UNM Hospital ICU Nurse Receives Statewide Award for Patient Care

Medical ICU nurse Ian Cady humbly sighs as he reads a letter written by a family member of one of his former patients at The University of New Mexico Hospital.

This nurse will forever be in the hearts of my family. I feel blessed that for the final day that we would spend with my father on this earth, that he would have his care in the hands of this phenomenal nurse. His compassion is genuine, not only embodied in every ounce of what he gave my dad that day, but an apparent example of what he naturally gives to all his patients and families.

The family member who wrote the letter was the son of Cady’s patient. The man’s father was losing his battle with cancer and Cady was there to make those last precious moments as peaceful as possible.


“It's an absolute honor,” Cady said. “I have the honor of being in a room and helping a person or a family member make this transition, this very singular moment in anybody's life, the end of their life.”

The letter earned Cady the “New Mexico Nursing Excellence’s Touch a Life” Award. The award gives patients and their families an opportunity to recognize a nurse who has left a lasting impact.

The nomination and the win were all a big surprise to Cady who said he found out about the award through a text message from one of his former supervisors.

“The text message said something like ‘Congrats Ian, you won!’ And that's all it said. I was certain this person's phone had been stolen and this was a scam, that the next text message was going to be ‘just send us your bank information and we'll give you your winnings,’ or something like that.”

But the nomination and the award were very real. The man who nominated Cady was also a nurse and said the way Cady cared for his father would stick with him both personally and professionally. In his letter, the man said he got the call he had dreaded from his mom at UNM Hospital to come quick. His father was going to die. When the man got to the ICU, he said Cady was at his father’s bedside.


Every time my dad felt uncomfortable, he was there. He was never short, he never acted as any time was the “one-time-too-many.” He never had to out-explain why my dad shouldn’t need anything he requested.

I know God exists because of the moments that were gifted back that day. I got to tell my dad thank you, I got to hold my dad and tell him I loved him.

The nurse had a student with him that day. I am thankful that his level of care will be perpetuated from his teaching… what an example. My approach with families and colleagues has also been strengthened because of him.

“I'm very thankful that I was there for that moment in his and his father's life,” Cady said, “That I was somehow in a place where I could contribute and help, that I had the skills and the education and the experience to be of some help to them during that moment.”

And that moment in that ICU at UNM Hospital would never have happened if Cady hadn’t made a life-changing career decision. “I was a mechanical engineer out in California for about 12 years or so,” he said. “And it was great, and I loved it, at first.” But it wasn’t fulfilling him in a way that he wanted anymore.

A career in medicine runs in his family, with his mother and aunt both being nurses and his uncle is a doctor. So, Cady went for it.

“What a weird time to be an ICU nurse during COVID. Somehow, I just I found myself in exactly the spot where I could actually help. It could’ve so easily been different and I'm just very thankful to have been in the position where I could contribute during a health crisis like nobody has seen in generations.”

The fast pace of the ICU is a draw to Cady who thrives in an environment where he is thinking steps ahead and making decisions quickly. As a medical ICU nurse, Cady is often treating patients who are critically ill. “They're considered to be a little bit less stable, or maybe sometimes much less stable and higher risk of deteriorating quickly,” he said. It’s that component of the job that Cady says makes his relationship with his patients and their family members unique.

“Many of our patients are intubated or sedated. They're lying in bed basically asleep, eyes closed, not moving. It would be easy to just do what you need to do to them while they're asleep. But I’m always talking to the patient, always explaining what I’m doing to them or even just telling them that it's morning, that it's a nice day outside or it's a stormy day outside, and they’re in Albuquerque.”

That communication is not just important for the patient. “It's to keep yourself grounded, to keep front and center of your own mind that this is a human being with loves and with fears and goals and dreams and ideas and a history.”

Reading the last part of the nomination letter, it’s clear Cady will forever be a part of this family’s history.

When it was time to turn off the infusions, he looked right at me. We just nodded at each other. I will never forget that. My dad had a beautiful and peaceful death. We were all at his side and present with each other. Not everyone gets that, that actual goodbye. He created an environment that encompassed all the beauties of support that we still talk about and are still thankful for.

“I don't know that I deserve it, but I love it,” Cady said. “And I really do try to do the best that I can because this is such an absolute central moment in everybody's life and I'm, for some bizarre reason, allowed to be part of that. I'm grateful for it.”

Click here to read the entire nomination letter for Cady.

New Mexico Nursing Excellence Awards 2022

Congratulations to all the recipients of the New Mexico Nursing Excellence Awards! Here are the winners from the UNM Health System including alumni and faculty from the UNM College of Nursing.

Advanced Practice:

Jodie Garcia: UNM Medical Group/UNM College of Nursing Previous Preceptor

Ambulatory Care:

Laura Grubb: UNM Hospital

Care/Quality Management, Managed Care Informatics:

Mila Muir: UNM Hospital

Critical Care:

LoraAnn Lovato: UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center/UNM College of Nursing Alum, Preceptor and TPT


Sara Daykin: UNM Hospital/UNM College of Nursing Faculty


Getachew Gobena: UNM Hospital

Executive Leadership:

Jamie Silva-Steele: CEO, President UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center/UNM College of Nursing Alum

Touch a Life:

Ian Cady: UNM Hospital/UNM College of Nursing Alum

New Mexico Nursing Legend:

Terry L. Fuhs MSN, RN, CEN, CPEN/UNM College of Nursing Alum

Barbara Overman PhD, MSN, MPH, RN/UNM College of Nursing Emerita Faculty

Community Service:

Karl Ngoye/UNM College of Nursing Alum

Nightingale Award:

Victoria Atencio/UNM College of Nursing Alum

Public Health/Community/School:

Jan Martin/UNM College of Nursing Retired Faculty

Hummingbird Circle Award:

Kathy Davis/UNM College of Nursing Alum: DNP 2018

Susan Fox/ UNM College of Nursing Alum: BSN 1971

Patricia Hurst/ UNM College of Nursing Alum: MS 1991
Categories: Community Engagement, News You Can Use, UNM Hospital