Being a nurse is stressful. Being a nurse who works permanent nights can be a challenge to both circadian rhythms and maintaining a social life. Add in working in labour and delivery with the ups and downs and joy and sometimes, sorrow, and you’ve got a tough combination. But one thing is clear, Michelle Bailey is tough enough for it all.
Starting her nursing career in 1986 at Toronto General Hospital, Michelle first worked in Gynecology-Oncology. Michelle joined the family at Mount Sinai Hospital, Canada’s only hospital with Magnet Designation, when the Labour and Delivery Unit from Toronto General Hospital was phased out, and Mount Sinai took on those beds, forming the largest Women’s and Infants’ program in Canada. It’s been 19 years since the move here, and even with that impressive number of years, she still loves where she works. “I love working in a big downtown hospital,” says Michelle. “There is a real sense of community amongst all the hospitals here. Nothing makes me more proud than when everyone – and I mean everyone – comes together to help one baby.”
When asked about why she decided to pursue a career in nursing, Michelle says, “I finished high school and wasn’t sure what to do. My mom thought I’d be a good nurse. I’m grateful she said that. I have thanked her many times for leading me in this direction.”
These days, much of Michelle’s work is team leading, a role that involves acting as a coordinator for the many clinicians involved in the care of a person giving birth. Being a team leader is an opportunity for experienced nurses to share their skills, and also offer mentorship to newer nurses. “I still do patient care, but when I’m team leading, I act as a hub for everyone involved in a patient’s care, from doctors, to nurses to respiratory therapists and more,” she explains. “As a leader, accurate and timely communication is so important, as well as making it all go smoothly for all the staff on duty. Making nurses feel secure that they will be where they need to be and that they have the tools and support to do their job is important to me. For patient care, it can be a very scary time, being in the hospital, so it’s important to me to make them feel safe and ensuring they have a good experience.”
Michelle’s dedication to her team and to teamwork is quickly apparent when talking to her. “My biggest inspiration has to be my colleagues. Seeing them in action helps me to continuously grow as a nurse and as a leader,” says Michelle. “Nobody here works alone. I am honoured to be highlighted for this, but I’m just one person in a big unit caring for many patients. This work is very much a team effort. I revel in the fact that the team always comes together, for emergencies and for joyful occasions.”
According to Michelle, her team delivers an average of about 10 babies per shift, making for a lot of life-changing moments for parents, and for the unit. “I always say, ‘a good day is when all the babies who were supposed to come out came out safely, and all the babies who were supposed to stay in, stayed in safely.’”