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Babies Wails – Music to Her Ears

A detour to her dream job takes this nurse back full circle

May 6, 2020

Chanell Jackson - Labor and delivery nurse at Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles
Chanell Jackson - Labor and delivery nurse at Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles

As far back as she can remember, Chanell Jackson BSN ’12 wanted to deliver babies. But her path there was anything but linear. As a premed student in college, her goal was to be an ob/gyn, but during her senior year at her undergraduate institution those plans and her career in healthcare were put on hold.

Instead, Jackson worked as a high school science teacher and as a microbiologist when, at 32, she set a new goal of becoming a midwife by the time she turned 40, and she attended the Mount’s accelerated BSN program.

“I went to an information session and didn’t apply anywhere else,” she says. “The school has the best reputation. It’s really research driven, and the clinical placements are very strong. The standards at the Mount are set at such a high level that it brings qualities out in you that you didn’t know you had. I hold myself to a higher accord to live up to the expectations and reputation of the school.”

Now a labor and delivery nurse at Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles, Jackson says, “I always joke that if I won the lottery, I’d still want to deliver babies.”

Of late, however, COVID-19 presents unique challenges. After asymptomatic people were found to carry the virus, Kaiser started universal testing of all mothers. The new visitor policy evolved from one visitor at a time to just one visitor—period--who could not come and go. And no one can attend cesarean section births or be in the recovery room, which is very hard for the mothers.

“We’re having to step up even more to provide a sense of calm during one of the most important times in their lives,” says Jackson. “Our stress level is through the roof. Everyone is scared, but we do our best to protect ourselves, our patients, and each other.

“I have a purpose in life,” Jackson explains. “When I get to hand a baby over to a mother, I stand back and see the parents’ faces as they gaze at their child for the first time. There’s so much love. I soak it all in and it really fuels me. I will be a nurse until the end of time.”