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Melissa Breen

An Advocate for All

August 21, 2023 Posted in: Patients & Providers  3 minute read time


“What do you want to be when you grow up?” For many kids, the answer to that question changes frequently throughout childhood. Not for Melissa Breen, MSN-Ed, RNC-OB, a clinical nurse educator of obstetrics and based at Women’s Hospital at Saint Joseph East.

“I was drawn to nursing as a young child because I was hospitalized often for illness,” Breen said. “I decided when I was 4 years old that I wanted to be a nurse and I’ve never strayed from that.”

Discovering a New Passion

A nurse for 18 years, mostly in labor and delivery units, Breen joined CHI Saint Joseph Health in 2013. Eventually, she realized she loved teaching and mentoring new staff members. She received a Master of Science in nursing education and became a clinical nurse educator specializing in obstetrics, a role that takes her across the ministry.

“As an educator, the most rewarding part of my work is sharing my passion and knowledge about labor and delivery with our staff,” Breen said. “It warms my heart to see a difficult clinical concept finally click for someone.”

Teaching and Practicing Respect

Women of color experience significant disparities in maternal health, and members of the LGBTQ community encounter barriers in accessing gender-affirming health care. Breen takes pride in providing patient-centered care to everyone.

“We all find ourselves in vulnerable situations throughout our lives,” Breen said. “Treating people with compassion, dignity and respect is not only the heart of nursing but also the heart of the human experience.”

In 2022, CHI Saint Joseph Health presented Breen with an Acts of Humankindness award for the respectful, compassionate way she cared for a transgender patient at Women’s Hospital at Saint Joseph East. Breen uses medical literature to educate nurses about and promote inclusivity in labor and delivery practices. In one case, she led the effort to provide a positive, patient-centered birthing experience for a parent whose sex assigned at birth did not match their gender identity.

“Labor and delivery has a solid group of nurses who are committed to a culture of patient-centered, inclusive care,” Breen said. “We stand up for what’s right and don’t mince words. Patients benefit from having a birth experience in which they feel respected and empowered.”

Breen believes inclusivity in health care should be second nature.

“Providing inclusive care shouldn’t be considered an extraordinary feat,” Breen said. “Rather, allowing each patient to be the expert on their own identity, who they love and the way they’d like to be treated should be common practice.”

Caregivers at the Women's Hospital at Saint Joseph East are committed to providing excellence in care through a comprehensive array of women's specialty services. Learn more.

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