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A beacon of hope at Beth Israel shines during a parent’s most unsettling hour

Samuel Grizzle’s unwavering empathy brings solace to premature newborns and their families.

A heart of gold and a soul of steel are what it takes to work in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Luckily, Samuel Grizzle, 23, has both.

As a registered nurse in the NICU at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Grizzle embodies compassion and resilience. The NICU can be a challenging and emotionally taxing environment, filled with the persistent beep of monitors, the cries of premature infants separated from their families, and the palpable tension of worried parents. Yet, it’s in this very setting that Grizzle’s dedication shines brightest.


“In the NICU, the parents are often overlooked extensions of the patient, but not with Sam,” writes his nominator Katie Rizzolo, a mother who experienced Grizzle’s exceptional care firsthand during her twin daughters’ nine-week stay in the NICU. Grizzle’s attentive and compassionate approach — evident in small gestures like making a personalized craft to celebrate an infant reaching a new healthy weight — not only humanized her daughters but also provided crucial support to her family during a challenging time.

A man wearing blue scrubs adjusts the blanket in a NICU crib in a hospital.
Samuel Grizzle working as a nurse at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

“Nursing is holistic and patient-centered care, where you are not treating the diagnosis or illness; you’re treating a person,” Grizzle says, noting the importance of addressing a patient and their family’s emotional well-being alongside their medical needs.

Originally from Nashville, Tenn., Grizzle’s interest in medicine began in high school and eventually led him to enroll in Northeastern University’s medical program. Though he initially planned a career as a doctor or physician assistant, his freshman year of college revealed his true passion for hands-on, patient-focused care.

“I’ve always found myself drawn to being with people and helping people, particularly newborns,” Grizzle says, reflecting on what inspired him to pursue a career in the NICU. “They are some of the most vulnerable people on Earth because they can’t do anything for themselves, so they need the most attention and most help.”


One of the most heartwarming moments for Grizzle is when he gets to see a baby reunite skin-to-skin with their parents for the first time. “It never gets old,” he says with a smile. “The parents are usually beaming and it’s such a great experience after having delayed this really important bonding time.” 

A man wearing blue scrubs stands in front of a window and checks on the NICU.
Samuel Grizzle working in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Of course, not every day in the NICU ends so joyfully. “The emotional stuff is sometimes hard not to carry home with you,” Grizzle admits. However, with the help of a strong support system, he finds the resilience to face each day’s challenges head-on, knowing he can lean on his colleagues and loved ones for support and understanding.

“I don’t think I could be the nurse I am now without the help, guidance, and support of every single nurse I work with in the NICU,” Grizzle acknowledges. To him, great nursing is all about teamwork and empathy — qualities he, himself, embodies every time he comforts a distressed parent or celebrates a milestone in a premature baby’s progress. 

Samuel’s Nominator Letter

Sam was our primary nurse through our twin girls’ nine-week NICU stay. The NICU is a hard and dehumanizing place — filled with wires and tubes and lacking many of the normal newborn experiences. Sam humanized our girls and cared for our well-being throughout the process. For the girls, he continuously demonstrated care by spending extra time holding them when they wanted to be held and making them crafts to commemorate their milestones that we will cherish for a lifetime. Every day we arrived with Sam on shift, he had tidied up their room, made a craft commemorating a new weight or age milestone, or had written out their health plans for us to ensure clear communication. We always felt our girls were in good hands when Sam was on and breathed a sigh of relief when he was with them at night. By the time the girls left the NICU, the crafts Sam made them celebrating their weight milestones, their month-to-month birthdays, and holidays were enough to fill their newborn baby memory box.

In the NICU, the parents are often overlooked extensions of the patient, but not with Sam. Sam reliably and gently checked in with us about how we were coping and what could be done better. He made sure to involve us in their care whenever possible, and when we called in to check in on the girls, he always let us know what outfits they were in and what their mood was like, little nonmedical touches that we cared about. On hard days, he was our voice, and paired us with resources whenever possible. But more importantly, Sam provided a listening ear on days when everything felt like too much.

I am a physician myself. I have seen and witnessed firsthand the daily grind of the healthcare system — the long hours, poor collaboration amongst care teams, unnecessary chatting and paperwork — that can burn out and harden even the most caring and thoughtful healthcare workers. This makes Sam’s above-and-beyond care all that more remarkable. The little touches to make our girls (and us parents) feel like humans made all the difference in the world and were critical to our family’s survival over 66 days. For his commitment and care for his patients, he is an excellent candidate for this recognition.

Nominated by Katie Rizzolo


This content was produced by Boston Globe Media's Studio/B in collaboration with the advertiser. The news and editorial departments of The Boston Globe had no role in its production or display.