After 10 years of working at Dubbo Hospital and helping safely deliver hundreds of the region's babies, Bethany Riley has been announced as the Western NSW Local Health District's (WNSWLHD) Midwife of the Year for 2023.
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The surprise announcement came during the International Day of the Midwife celebrations taking place at the hospital on Friday, May 5.
Ms Riley said the announcement was "surreal, overwhelming and unexpected".
"I was very shocked, there are so many beautiful midwives nominated for this award and I never in my wildest dreams thought I'd be nominated let alone win it," she said.
The Midwife of the Year is based on three criteria points; their demonstration and commitment to the Living Well Together Values, commitment to the midwifery profession, and demonstration of leadership in the provision of midwifery quality care.
When Ms Riley's colleagues started talking about why she was a deserving award winner, she said her mind went "blank".
"They were describing this person and I was standing there and it didn't occur to me that they were talking about me, I was just sipping my coffee," she laughed.
Ms Riley originally never wanted to get into nursing despite her mother being a nurse. Instead it was after watching one of the world's most famous hospital dramas that encouraged her to take the plunge.
"Truth be told I was watching Grey's Anatomy one night after finishing year 12 and then I said 'I'm going to be a nurse, yeah that sounds like a great idea'," she said.
It wasn't until her second year of nursing school when she was sat around with her peers talking about what speciality they wanted to get into, that she decided to do midwifery.
"That decision stuck with me forever, and somewhere in my heart I just knew that was where I was going," she said.
"I love work, I love going to work and I love that every day is a different day, labour is my passion and just bringing new life into the world."
Despite there being a dark side to being a midwife, Ms Riley said, even that, she has come to love.
"I just love being with the women and just supporting them through every journey they take," she said.
In what was a huge step forward in her career, in 2022 Ms Riley took on a new role at the hospital, becoming a clinical and midwifery educator.
"It's about supporting students and staff in a clinical environment and I love the mentoring and the teaching behind it," she said.
"Watching the students grow is incredible."
Ms Riley has her own mantra - 'Go be the midwife' and she said watching her students go be the midwife was incredibly fulfilling.
"You want the experience to be a very positive one for the woman giving birth so I'm trying to pass on my knowledge to those around me," she said.
But Ms Riley recognises that even she doesn't know everything.
"I want to keep improving, everyday you find something new to learn and I'm no expert, even in this educator role...so my goal is just to learn something new and to keep supporting the up and coming midwives," she said.
Ms Riley said she will most likely be in Dubbo for the rest of her life and wants to make the maternity unit a happy place.
"I want to achieve and make our unit positive for the women, we are a high risk unit and we see so much come through it so my goal in life is just to bring a happy environment and I hope that everyone enjoys work as much as I do," she said.
One of the things Ms Riley loves about her job are the "extraordinary" women she meets every day.
"I love the women, I love talking to different families and seeing the different dynamics of the families," she said.
Bethany isn't the type of person who seeks accolades, but she very thoroughly deserves this one.- Alison Loudon, District Manager Maternity and Children's Strategies
Alison Loudon, District Manager Maternity and Children's Strategies, presented Ms Riley with the Midwife of the Year Award.
"Bethany has been working at Dubbo Hospital for 10 years and has always gone above and beyond in the care she provides. Bethany thoroughly deserves the Midwife of the Year Award," Ms Loudon said.
"Bethany not only demonstrates all the qualities required to win this Award, she is also a fantastic role model and leader for her fellow midwives and the entire workforce, and she has used her own experience to become a wonderful leader.
"Bethany began work at Dubbo as a Graduate Registered Nurse and progressed through the hospital's nursing and midwifery pathways to reach her current position as a Clinical Midwifery Educator."
While the last 12 months have continued to present new challenges for all frontline staff, Ms Riley's commitment hasn't just extended to her own work and development. She continues to thrive as a mentor and innovator and has recently become a mentor in the Mentoring for Midwifery program.
"Bethany deeply cares for and mentors students and newly practising midwives in a way that empowers them. She is an incredible advocate for midwives and for women," Ms Loudon said.
"Bethany isn't the type of person who seeks accolades, but she very thoroughly deserves this one. We would also like to recognise and congratulate all 14 of the other finalists for this year's award, and we thank each and every hard-working, dedicated midwife across the District."
Ms Loudon said the local celebration among guests and midwifery colleagues was an important opportunity to thank all local midwives for their hard work, skill and compassion.
"I want to also extend my gratitude to all of our District midwives for the dedication, expertise, and compassion they bring each and every day to their role, supporting women and their families right across our community," Ms Loudon said.
As the winner of the District's 2023 Midwife of the Year Award, Ms Riley will also be nominated by the District for NSW Health's 2023 Excellence in Nursing and Midwifery Awards.
"I think every midwife in our maternity unit needs a huge credit, I always say to the girls 'I can't be me if I didn't have you'," Ms Riley said.
"I think the support that everyone's given since I've come into the educator role has been so generous.
"Everyone's been so beautiful and supportive from the very junior to the very top."
Other nominees for the award included Lilly Castor, Sarah Heath, Emma Howard, Melissa Ousby, Tanya Bayliss, Alexandra Bartlett, Sally Jenkins, Lou Gillman, Sharni Chimenti, Jennine Maher, Sarah Doel, Judith Driscoll, Stacy Edwards and Peta Sharkey.
Nominations for the 2023 Excellence in Nursing and Midwifery Healing Hearts Awards close on Friday, 23 June 2023.
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