Cheryl and Caitlyn Dowd, gowned and masked, pose in front of a Patriots mural.
Caitlyn Dowd (left) and her mother, Cheryl Dowd

Nursing has always been something that connects mother and daughter Cheryl and Caitlyn Dowd. And, in a fortunate twist of fate during unfortunate circumstances, the two Massachusetts General Hospital nurses have been given the opportunity to work side-by-side caring for COVID-19 patients.

Cheryl Dowd, NP, has worked at Mass General for the past five years—and previously from 1986-1995—in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Her daughter, Caitlyn Dowd, has worked as a patient care associate on Ellison 17 and 18 for the past two years. When Ellison 18 went from a pediatrics to an adult COVID unit in April, Cheryl was floated to the floor to help out.

“I have always wanted to be a nurse because of my mom. To be at this point where I get to see my mom working at the bedside is awesome,” says Caitlyn. “It has been cool to work with her, given the unfortunate circumstances. There are so many highs and lows, it’s been a lot to process. But I’m happy to be able to help in some sort of capacity when others cannot.”

The mother-daughter duo got to enjoy another experience together as well earlier this May. Caitlyn earned her BSN and a special pinning ceremony was held on Ellison 17/18 for the class of 2020 graduates. Caitlyn was one of four nursing students recognized, with Cheryl having the honor of pinning her daughter.

“It’s been a really unique and special experience,” says Cheryl. “We never would have had this opportunity if not for this unusual health crisis. It has been so enjoyable for me to look across the bedside and see Caitlyn taking care of a patient—it makes me really proud of her. She’s taught me a few things as I haven’t done bedside nursing in so long.”

Both Caitlyn and Cheryl agree that despite seeing sad and difficult situations during the COVID crisis, everyone has stepped up and come together in incredible ways.

“I feel that staff has been so incredibly supportive of one another,” says Cheryl. “We feel like we’re able to take good care of our patients. Among the sadness, there are so many good and happy situations too—patients do get better and go home. This has been very fulfilling opportunity for me for many reasons.”

Adds Caitlyn, “I’m so proud of the staff I work with, especially my mom. She’s been thrown into a not only a role that has changed, but into a completely different population. It’s great to see her interact with patients—it’s something that has always connected us.”