Clinical Nurse, Center for Labor and Birth

BRIGHAM AND WOMEN'S HOSPITAL ESSENCE OF NURSING 2015 FINALIST AT WORKNominated by Nurse Director Susan Caffrey, RN; and Catherine McGovern, MSN, RN, CNM, clinical nurse educator, Center for Labor and Birth; with letters of support from clinical nurse educator Ginny Silva, RN, MS, FNP-C; and Julie Pietschman, BSN, RN, CNOR, the grandmother of two patients.

The nature of birth is that you can expect the unexpected, and Julie Bettencourt, BSN, RN, is always ready in these situations, wrote her nominators.

“I usually gravitate toward the sickest patients, the ones with the most unique stories,” said Bettencourt. “Our care is especially critical to those high-risk patients, and I feel privileged to play a role in their healing.”

Her nominators emphasized that her clear and honest communication with family members is reassuring during difficult situations, and the trusting relationships she builds with them help to put them at ease.

Bettencourt’s expert nursing skills and compassion were vital to one recent patient, a mother who delivered twins—a healthy girl and her brother, who was not expected to survive.

“I still remember how I felt just prior to entering the parents’ room for the first time,” recalled Bettencourt. “Being a mother to four daughters, I could only imagine the pain and suffering that they were experiencing. They were making the most difficult decision of their lives, and I needed to support that decision and guide them through their journey.”

That’s exactly what she did. She made sure that the baby boy was always in someone’s arms, no matter what. When his family needed to rest, Bettencourt held him. She also organized a photo session and created a memory box with clay molds of the twins’ hand and footprints.

“As our primary nurse, Julie smoothly created a trusting environment and connected with our family,” recalled Julie Pietschman, the twins’ grandmother, who wrote a letter of support for Bettencourt’s nomination. “When we were transferred to a different floor, she always visited us. We felt so secure knowing she was watching over us even from a distance.”

A few days later, the baby boy passed away while being held by family members. His family treasured the memories Bettencourt helped them make.

“Julie’s caring behaviors are demonstrated in everything she does and says, both personally and professionally,” wrote Ginny Silva, MS, RN, FNP-C, in a nomination letter. “Julie is able to convey the essence of compassion and care during the profound human experiences that happen every day on our unit.”

Bettencourt received her BSN from Syracuse University College of Nursing. Before joining BWH in 2002, she held clinical nurse positions at St. Luke’s Hospital and New England Medical Center/Floating Hospital for Children.