Giving Blueday: A team effort to shape the future of medicine

November 26, 2019  //  FOUND IN: Updates & Resources,
Lisa Aaron-Laco, third from left, with some of her colleagues at Michigan Medicine.

“What you do might not seem that important, but sometimes it’s the littlest thing that ends up being the most important,” said Lisa Aaron-Laco, a registered nurse in Michigan Medicine’s adult inpatient rehabilitation unit.

As she cares for patients who have spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries or cancer, or those recovering from strokes, Lisa has realized that some of her most rewarding moments are when she is able to simply listen to someone who needs to talk.

“It’s a blessing to be able to connect with patients, listen to them, support them, learn from them and teach them how to be independent,” Lisa said.

A number of the people she cares for have had their lives change in the blink of an eye. They may have been in a car accident, suffered a fall or experienced an unexpected medical emergency that suddenly limited their basic functions and ability to care for themselves.

Lisa said she is fortunate to be part of a multidisciplinary group of physicians, therapists, social workers, psychologists, dietitians and many others who are dedicated to helping these patients get stronger and take on their next journey in life. And she is grateful for the support and commitment of the nurses she works with.

“I see nursing as a team sport — we rely so much on each other,” Lisa said. “I am amazed by the ideas our nurses come up with, the drive they have and the way they connect with patients.”

Providing support

To support her fellow nurses, Lisa made a gift to the Nursing at Michigan Fund on Giving Blueday last year. The fund provides opportunities for Michigan Medicine’s 6,000-plus nurses to advance their education, research and world-class nursing skills.

“I wanted to give because I believe strongly that nurses at the University of Michigan are very innovative and I really haven’t met a nurse where it’s just a job — it’s more of a passion,” Lisa said. “I wanted to help fund those nurses who want to make changes, conduct research and really improve the care we provide.”

Lisa has seen the impact that the efforts of her fellow nurses can make in advancing patient care. One of her colleagues has researched how sleep-wake cycles can aid recovery in brain injury patients, uncovering results that can help improve treatments. Lisa also worked on a project with a physical therapist and other nurses on her floor to examine factors that cause falling incidents among patients. Their study informed better practices that have helped reduce falls by one-third in their unit.

She hopes that further support from initiatives like the Nursing at Michigan Fund will encourage more nurses to pursue the concepts and breakthroughs that can make a difference in medicine.

“This type of funding can promote education, awareness, recognition for nurses or resources that can really make the care experience better,” Lisa said. “Someone’s great idea could really change a life.”

How you can make an impact

You, too, can show your support for Michigan Medicine.

On Tuesday, Dec. 3, a global day of giving following Thanksgiving, U-M will hold its sixth annual Giving Blueday celebration. Over 24 hours, people around the world will come together to support U-M through gifts big and small. It’s a chance to be part of the U-M community and a force for good.

Last year, more than 1,800 Michigan Medicine donors raised more than $1.2 million. This year, the organization hopes to raise that bar even higher.

To learn more, visit