Throughout her distinguished career, Jackie Somerville, PhD, RN, FAAN, chief nursing officer and senior vice president of Patient Care Services, has been an advocate for nursing’s role in caring for and knowing patients and families. On Oct. 17, she was acknowledged for her work and deep commitment to providing holistic care when she was inducted as a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing during its annual policy conference.
Somerville’s research and professional path have been guided by the principle that nurses must know a patient as a person to deliver the very best care. This includes knowing and understanding their psychological and spiritual needs. As a doctoral student, she conducted a qualitative descriptive study on this topic and identified four key measures of the patient experience: being recognized as a unique human being by their nurses; feeling safe; experiencing a meaningful, personal connection with their nurses; and feeling empowered by their nurses to participate in their care. Guided by these themes, Somerville developed an instrument called the Patients’ Perceptions of Feeling Known by Their Nurses Scale that has been published and is used in hospitals nationwide.
Today, Somerville’s dedication to evidence-based and theory-infused nursing practice has expanded and influenced the Department of Nursing at BWH. As a certified Caritas Coach, she practices within the theory of Caritas/Caring Science created by Jean Watson, PhD, RN, AHN-BC, FAAN, founder and director of the Watson Caring Science Institute. Caritas practices remind nurses about their covenant with society to authentically care for body-mind-spirit of others in ways that are meaningful to them and promote healing. Somerville has led BWH to be named as one of 13 international affiliates of the Watson Caring Science Institute. This distinction shows the department’s and Somerville’s deep commitment to infusing nursing practice at every level and role with Caritas processes and caring intention.
“Through her leadership, Jackie connects us as BWH nurses with the true meaning of being a nurse,” said Mary Lou Etheredge, MS, RN, PMHCNS-BC, executive director of Nursing Practice Development.
This year, Somerville was among a group of 163 nurse leaders inducted as academy fellows representing association executives; university presidents, chancellors and deans; state and federal political appointees; hospital chief executives and vice presidents for nursing; nurse consultants; and researchers and entrepreneurs.
Invitation to become a fellow is more than recognition of one’s accomplishments within the nursing profession. The 2,200 Academy fellows also have a responsibility to contribute their time and energy to the Academy, and to engage with other health leaders outside the Academy in transforming America’s health system.
A group of Nursing and Patient Care Services leaders traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend the induction and show their support of Somerville. “Being present to witness our CNO’s induction was a great honor,” said Marjorie Brunache-Depestre, RN, nurse-in-charge and Caritas Coach on Tower 14AB. “I was so humbled in the presence of so many living legends in nursing. I couldn’t be prouder to be a BWH nurse.”
Added Kathy McManus, MS, RD, director of Nutrition: “It was an honor and a privilege to be present at Jackie’s induction as a fellow into the American Academy of Nursing. Jackie is a fantastic role model for leadership, patient care and education of staff and I am inspired every day by the tremendous collaboration between Nursing and Patient Care Service directors.”
David McMahon, administrative director for Patient Care Services, summed it up perfectly when he added: “I think the most meaningful aspect of Jackie’s well-deserved induction is how she views the honor. Jackie sees it not simply as a recognition of her own leadership, but, more importantly, as an acknowledgment of the tremendous work being done by all BWH nurses in advancing professional practice and embracing caring science as a means of enriching patient care.”