Know Your Heroes: Barbara Bailey

Barbara Bailey standing outside with her UHN Nurse Practitioner outfit on during the summer.

Name: Barbara Bailey
Title: Nurse Practitioner
Number of years working in health care: 29
I was born and raised in: Born in Yarmouth, NS but raised in Northern Ontario (New Liskeard)

I decided to get into health care because I was around health care my entire life. My dad was a pathologist and he covered a lot of Northern Ontario where I grew up. After my first year at McMaster, I got a summer job as a health care aide (similar to a Personal Support Worker), that is when I fell in love with nursing. I immediately loved it and wanted to pursue nursing as a career. I had found my calling. I applied to the McMaster University School of Nursing – was accepted and never looked back. Nursing has brought so such happiness in my life.

My career at UHN started in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU) as an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurse in 2001. In 2003, I was a clinical instructor for undergrad nursing students from University of Toronto (U of T) on the Cardiovascular (CV) ward, which is where I gained an excellent understanding of the Nurse Practitioner (NP) role. I was immediately drawn to the NP role and knew this is the advanced nursing role I wanted to pursue. Fortunately for me, I covered a maternity leave for one of the NP’s in CV surgery and then began my NP studies at U of T. I remained in CV surgery while completing my studies in 2007 and then developed advanced knowledge in postoperative management in adult congenital heart disease patients. In 2015, I transitioned to the NP in Adult Congenital Heart Disease (ACHD) and since then I am the NP for the Toronto ACHD program at UHN’s Peter Munk Cardiac Centre.

The thing I love the most about my job is the patients I care for – for me, it has always been and always will be the patient care I provide that brings me the greatest joy and happiness.

The most incredible thing I’ve seen at work is the team work I have experienced here at UHN’s Peter Munk Cardiac Centre. Before I came to UHN, I worked across the United States in a variety of ICUs and worked within many teams. However, when I joined the CV surgery team at Toronto General Hospital, I was blown away by the incredible teamwork that surrounded me and remains strong to this day. The relationships I have built over the years and the people I work with, the NPs, nurses, physicians, coordinators, administrative staff, pharmacists –all team members are unlike any other. I am truly grateful for the incredible individuals who make it possible for me to provide the best care for my patients.

I’m inspired by… To be honest, I have a few! Individuals here at UHN and outside the organization who have seen my potential and given me the courage to achieve all my professional aspirations. Individuals here at UHN, such as Mary Ferguson-Pare, Joy Richards and Pam Hubley. Linda Flockhart, Sheryl Alexandre and Helen Kelly.

One of my personal heroes is Michelle Acorn because, in my role of the Nurse Practitioners’ Association of Ontario (NPAO) President, I work closely with Michelle (currently CEO of NPAO and previous Provincial Chief Nurse who has served as the inaugural Chief Nurse with the International Council of Nurses). Michelle is one of my personal heroes, not only because of the work she does at NPAO but also the work she does as a clinician. Michelle continues to practice in the community, enhancing access to care for health equity seeking populations and that is why she is one of my personal heroes.

I sometimes worry about not being able to achieve everything I want to do especially when it comes to my family. Trying to achieve work life balance is extremely difficult for professionals like myself, who are so driven and yet have very busy personal and family lives outside of work.

I’ve found joy recently from the feedback I receive from my patients and their love ones. I receive countless emails, notes, photos and stories from patients and families who keep me in their lives long after they are discharged. That tells me that I have made a difference to them, they can count on me to help them through their journey and patient experience.

My favourite movie is Breakfast Club because of the diverse group that comes together in high school detention. The importance of remembering that everyone is different can be a hard lesson to learn in high school, but one day they form such a strong bond. Plus, I love 80s music — who doesn’t?

My ideal day off is (this question is easy for me) at the beach with family and/or friends. On the ocean, by the pool, lounging in the sun, reading a good book.


Did you know you can recognize a UHN staff member through our Honour Your Hero program? Express gratitude for the care you or a loved one received and share a personal message of thanks with the people who supported you throughout your care journey. Your gift will supported research, education and the enhancement of patient care right here at UHN.

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