Mikki Layton, Chief Nursing Executive

Meet Mikki Layton, Chief Nursing Executive at Michael Garron Hospital

Mikki Layton, Chief Nursing Executive at Michael Garron Hospital (MGH), shares her career journey and words of advice.

Could you tell us about yourself and what motivated you to join MGH?

I grew up in a small town in Nova Scotia. In 1987 there was a nursing shortage in Ontario and I looked at many hospitals that were hiring. MGH appealed to me because it was a community teaching hospital and it was serving patients close to home. This was an environment I was familiar with and the community feel reminded me of where I grew up, although Toronto is a much larger city.

At MGH, I felt like I had a family away from home. I felt welcomed and everyone was friendly and kind. This made me comfortable at work and outside of work. This was very important to me as a new nurse coming to the big city. I was only planning to stay for one year, but that turned into two and now here we are over 34 years later. My decision to stay here can be attributed to the people and culture within the walls of this hospital.

What types of learning, mentorship or professional development opportunities have you had the opportunity to pursue since joining MGH?

From my very first day at MGH, I had the opportunity to work alongside and learn from amazing nurses who are strong leaders with high standards for patient care. I recall my first nursing leader, Maureen Dennis, who led a great unit and was a strong role model for her nurses. She set high standards for care with her coaching and warmth.

I have received mentorship and encouragement from many nurses during my time here and this has shaped me into the nurse I am today. Not only did my mentors instill in me the importance of being a great teammate, but they also encouraged me to grow and apply for positions within the hospital that I never would have thought to try otherwise.

During my time at MGH, I have also had many opportunities to update my education. A few examples of this include:

  • A specialty certification in critical care from the Canadian Nurses Association
  • A specialty certification in hospice palliative care from the Canadian Nurses Association
  • My Master of Nursing from the University of Toronto

Can you share your career path at MGH?

Mikki Layton, 2005
Mikki in 2005.

1987: I was hired as a Registered Nurse in the Medical Unit.

1989: I worked on the Intravenous team as a Registered Nurse for one year.

1990: Then I moved to the Coronary Medical Intensive Care Unit for 10 years.

2000: I became a systemic therapy nurse in the Oncology Unit.

2006: I was encouraged by my director to apply for the position of Manager of Oncology, Inpatient and Outpatient Unit. I was hesitant at first. I felt that moving into a management role would mean I would not get to interact with as many patients as I was able to as a nurse. Interacting with patients and influencing positive outcomes for them is something I love to do. My director highlighted to me that moving to a management role meant I could influence change in a different way. I decided to give it a try. I ended up enjoying this role very much and I worked with a fantastic team.

2010: I was offered an opportunity to work as an Advanced Practice Nurse in Oncology which required me to go back to school to obtain my Master of Nursing degree. While I was in school, I took on the role of an advanced practice clinician within the Hematology and Oncology Unit.

2012: Once I graduated, I transitioned into the role of Nurse Practitioner (NP) within the same area becoming the first NP at MGH. In this role, I was able to provide mentorship to many NP students who came through the hospital.

2020: I was asked to take on the role of Interim Chief Nursing Executive.

2021: I interviewed and was successful in becoming the permanent Chief Nursing Executive.

What motivates/inspires you?

The opportunity to positively impact a patient and their family’s experience motivates and inspires me every day.

Nurses see patients during their most vulnerable moments, often when they are scared and unsure of what is coming next. As a nurse, I have the knowledge, expertise and opportunity to combine the art and science of nursing with best practice to help them get through these difficult moments. I take great pride in helping them along this journey and I consider it a privilege to be part of their story.

Could you share a memorable moment from your time at MGH? What stands out the most to you?

There are so many memorable moments, I can’t pick just one. I would break down my most memorable moments into two categories:

  1. Hearing from nurses I have mentored in the past. It is always so nice to hear from nurses who I have helped train in the past. I will get a phone call or an e-mail letting me know that they were successful in a new role or opportunity due to the experience and confidence they built with me and at MGH.

Having great mentors played an important role in my nursing career and has shaped me into the nurse I am today. I always try and be there for nurses to offer encouragement and guidance as they grow in their own careers.

  1. Hearing experiences from patients and families. This always hits home for me and the reason I strive for my personal best. It puts into perspective the impact I may have and my role in a patient’s care experience. Knowing I have made a positive impact on their life and made their difficult experience easier is of the utmost importance to me. It makes the tough moments in nursing worthwhile.

What advice would you give to a nurse who is starting work at MGH?

I believe the following advice applies to all nurses, no matter how far you are in your career.

Always ask questions and seek opportunities to learn. Choosing a career in nursing requires a commitment to lifelong learning. This could be done informally in many ways: by learning from a nurse who is a role model for excellence in practice and setting high standards of care, by learning from a new graduate nurse who comes with fresh eyes and new knowledge, by learning from an experienced nurse who can share intuition and leadership experience or by learning from a colleague who excels at putting patients and families first.

You can also create the opportunity to learn through a more formal approach by taking a course or specialty certification, a degree program or a combination of both. There is always support available at MGH to improve your skills or your education.

Set high standards for yourself. Place trust in yourself and your intuition. That’s not to say there won’t be times when you are not able to deliver care the way you want to. There will be ups and downs along your nursing career. When your day does not go according to plan, use it as a growth opportunity! Reflect on it, learn from it and don’t be afraid to share these moments as learning opportunities for others. You and others will grow personally and professionally through these experiences

Above all else, always remain patient-centred. Try to put yourself in their most vulnerable place. You are in a position of trust and knowledge. Never underestimate the impact you have on a patient and their care journey. You will leave a lasting impact.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I am very proud to have spent my career here at Michael Garron Hospital. This hospital values staff and provides opportunity for growth.

We take pride in delivering high-quality evidence-based patient care and ensuring patients and families have the best experience possible. To achieve this, we are committed to supporting our nurses in their professional development.

If you are reading this and a nurse at MGH, I encourage you to never stop seeking out opportunities to grow and learn. If you are not a nurse at MGH and are looking for a supportive work environment, I encourage you to learn more about nursing at MGH or check out our current job openings.

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