Nurses can be many things to their patients. A caregiver. A friend. A warrior. A lifesaver. A companion. An inspiration.

For Megan Buckley, RN, and her father, Frank Buckley, nurses are all these things.

Frank received a heart transplant at the Mass General Hospital in 1997 and a second transplant in 2013—to treat his cardiomyopathy—after which he spent six months in the Massachusetts General Hospital Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) with his family by his side as often as possible.

“I’ve always had such faith in Mass General, they saved my dad’s life twice, probably more,” says Megan, who is now a nurse in the same cardiac unit where her father spent so much time. “He always talked about his amazing care team, but especially his nurses. They were the ones who would spend time with him when we couldn’t be there and that’s just beautiful.”

Becoming a nurse has been a dream for Megan ever since she, her twin brother and their older sister could be found as kids bouncing around the hospital room while visiting their dad after his first heart transplant. It was then that Megan first witnessed the compassionate patient care that nurses provide every day.

“It is definitely because of the care my dad received after his first transplant that made me want to become a nurse,” says Megan. “If you have a good nurse, it’s a good day for a patient. These nurses handle the most incredible situations I’ve ever seen in my entire life, and they do it with such strength and ease. I want to be able to support patients and families through the long arduous transplantation process that my family experienced.”

After Frank’s second transplant when she was a freshman in college, Megan graduated and began working at Mass General on White 8—as a patient care assistant for three years and then two years as an RN. While working on White 8, Megan credits her nursing director, Colleen Gonzalez, for being a constant motivator in her career, and was instrumental in securing Megan a job interview for the CICU—one day after the seventh anniversary of Frank’s last transplant. Megan began her new role as a registered nurse in the CICU in early March, under the wing of her preceptor, Lisa O’Neill, RN, one of the very same nurses who cared closely for her father seven years ago.

“It is truly amazing to see the way my dad described these nurses firsthand – especially my preceptor Lisa who was such a champion for him when he was a patient,” Megan says. “It takes so much to maintain a job in the ICU, and she still has such a good spirit after all this time. The experience with Lisa and watching how meticulous she is has been so inspiring to me, especially throughout the pandemic. She—and all these nurses—are truly incredible and deserve so much credit. My time here so far has exceeded my expectations and it makes me even more grateful for the care my dad has had.”

Today, Frank is doing well, enjoying retirement, and couldn’t be prouder of his daughter, who has become to her patients what O’Neill and other CICU nurses were to him: A caregiver. A friend. A warrior. A lifesaver. A companion. An inspiration.