I am the I in IWK – Mary Thibeault

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Forty years ago, Mary Thibeault graduated from university in May, wrote her nursing exam in June and began working at the IWK in July. Forty years later, she is still here.

Thibeault is the manager of the Learning Team at the IWK and has also spent the COVID-19 pandemic working as co-manager of the Primary Assessment Clinic – the clinic providing testing for COVID-19. After graduating as a registered nurse, Thibeault began working in neonatal care at the IWK Children’s Hospital. She continued to practice in the area of neonatal care, eventually playing a role in amalgamating the neonatal services from the IWK Children’s Hospital and the Grace Maternity hospital and then acting as assistant manager when the two organizations merged.

When looking back on her career in neonatal care, Thibeault says it was the learning that she enjoyed most.

“What I loved about neonatal, and still do, is that there are so many aspects of it. In any given day you can learn about so many specialties and subspecialties,” says Thibeault. “There is just so much to learn.”

Not surprisingly, Thibeault’s passion for learning continued throughout her career. She eventually became a professional development consultant for the neonatal team and then a learning consultant in Human Resources. From there, she became the manager of learning and ultimately the now formed Learning Team.

“If I hadn’t been a nurse, I would have been a teacher,” says Thibeault. “And as luck would have it, I got to do both. For me, it’s always about helping people get to that next level.”

After a career of care and learning, Thibeault is looking towards retirement, and looking back on her time at the IWK.

“I think change is always for the better and there has been 40 years of growth, development and change in the world of human beings since I started at the IWK. How we develop and organize our care also has to be different now, because the world is different,” says Thibeault. “What hasn’t changed though, is that people come to us because they have a need and we are here because we want to help them.”

As she considers retirement, there is one thing in particular that reassures Thibeault that the time is right.

“One of the things that made me realize I was ready to retire, is how much confidence I have in the people behind me. I have been able to influence positive change and growth and now there is a brilliant new cohort of professionals ready to move the world into the next stage and they have so much creativity and energy,” says Thibeault. “I am thrilled to have been part of it and with the professionals that are part of health care now, I have every confidence it’s going to be ok when I’m no longer working. It has been such a privilege to be able to contribute.”