Benefis DAISY Award Winner Amber Benford Turned Tragedy into Caring for Others

A patient's drastically low blood pressure and high potassium level set off alarm bells for Amber Benford, RN. 

An admitting physician ordered medication to start addressing the man's issues, but Amber was able to quickly coordinate emergency dialysis. That drastically altered the man's medication needs, and she paused long enough to question the need for the medication cocktail. Confirming her read of the situation, Amber didn't administer the medicine. Her insight reduced treatment time and reduced the odds of complications. 

"It was a very good catch and a lot of pieces moving very quickly. The role of the nurse in the ED was very important that day so he didn't fall through the cracks," said Scott Schandelson, manager of the Emergency Department. "If she was able to go so far beyond for this one patient, I know she's doing the same for lots of patients." 

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Amber's care coordination was far above her years, Scott added. Amber is nearing her two-year anniversary with Benefis and is known for her infectious smile and the positive attitude she brings with her to work.

Amber is this quarter's Benefis DAISY Award winner, recipient of an award given to outstanding nurses around the world.

"Thank you for believing in me and for pushing me," Amber told her colleagues as she received the prestigious nursing award.

Amber said she has always wanted to be a nurse. At 22 months old, she was put into foster care. She grew up watching her foster grandmother care for people and show them unconditional love and her foster mother's generosity of spirit in taking in people they didn't have to, kids like her.

"If I didn't have them, I never would have made it here -- or at all. I'm where I am because of having people who didn’t give up in me, and I want them to know it was worth it," she said. "Life has prepared me for tough situations."

daisy award winner

As a CNA, she enjoyed the satisfaction of watching patients regain their ability to walk as they went through rehab. Then, as Amber was just about to start nursing school, her fiancé died enroute to the ED.

"I remember the doctor sitting us down and saying, 'We did all we could." I've never questioned that they did all they could, and that brought us peace." she said. "The ED people held us together. They gave us time with him. They helped us."

She decided to become the kind of person who could help others through similar situations, that they would know "when a patient is in my care, I do everything I can for them," she said. “I try to be better every day, to learn from any mistakes."

Amber has four children now, including two stepchildren. Sometimes, she goes home tired, but she quickly is itching to be back caring for her patients and working with her team.

Benefis presents the DAISY Award quarterly. To nominate a Benefis nurse who has touched your life for a DAISY Award, visit

Meet our other DAISY winners: