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In memorium: Jean O’Neil

September 12, 2022

I am very sad to note the passing of Dr. Jean A.  O’Neil, Associate Professor Emeritus at Boston College.  Jean graduated cum laude from Boston College School of Nursing in 1955 with a B.A. in Nursing, completed her Master’s Degree at Boston College in Nursing and Education in 1963, and earned her Doctor of Education degree in 1985, from Boston University. 

Jean was known for her love of teaching, which she did for several years at the Catherine Laboure School of Nursing and then at Boston College (BC), beginning in 1969. The BC undergraduate students loved her, and it was not uncommon to see students walking with her after class, asking questions, or just chatting about how college was going. They talked of her support, mentorship, and tutoring when her name would be mentioned. During her tenure at BC, she also filled the role of acting Dean of the School of Nursing.  Jean was a faculty fellow at Harvard Medical School Division of Aging and Geriatric Education Center 1992-­1993.

Those of us who spent time serving on the Diagnosis Development Committee in the 1990s and 2000s had the opportunity to work with her as a committee member. Jean brought order, thoughtfulness, and rigor to the process of diagnosis review – along with a truly delightful sense of humor. She was a wonderful mentor for new committee members and for those working to develop and refine diagnoses, spending countless hours reviewing articles being used to support a defining characteristic, for example, and then going back to the submitter to recommend more consideration due to lack of rigor in the scientific method of the article, or adding additional references she had found while reviewing their work. She was always kind and supportive, but expected rigor and best effort in return. She made all of us better committee members and, perhaps, better human beings.

Jean authored and co-­authored many chapters and articles in various professional publications and books.  Upon her retirement in 2002 from Boston College, the nursing faculty established The Jean A O’Neil Achievement Award in her honor, which is presented to a graduate at each commencement convocation.

Dr. Jean O’Neil was a special individual, and she will be greatly missed. I, for one, always looked for her at conferences and truly enjoyed every conversation, every meeting – and every smile she shared.

T. Heather Herdman, PhD, RN, FNI, FAAN – Chief Executive Officer