Jeanne Quint Benoliel, PhD, RN, FAAN was born in National City, California. She graduated from San Diego High School, and studied Pre-Nursing at San Diego State College. She graduated from St. Luke’s Hospital School of Nursing in San Francisco, was a nurse in the United States Army Nurse Corp, received her B.S. from Oregon State University in Corvallis, her M.S. and postmasters study in Physiology and Statistics from the University of California in Los Angeles, and received her DNSc from the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Benoliel began her work at the University of Washington after completing her doctoral education at the University of California, San Francisco. Much of her research focused on how one learns to live with chronic illness and what it is like to live with a terminal illness. She studied the concept of identity in the face of impending death, the conspiracy of silence that often surrounds the dying patient, and how illness affects the caregiver.
In 1981 she developed a graduate program in “Oncology Transition Services.” She has worked with local, national and international groups in thanatology and care of the dying to introduce hospice models. She provided consultation on research to developing nursing programs in Israel and Japan in the 1970's as well as in Sweden and Norway.
Jeanne has received numerous awards for her service, teaching and research. She received honorary degrees from the University of San Diego, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale. She was an active member in ANA and AAN, and served on several committees and commissions. She was bestowed, by the American Academy of Nursing, the title of “Living Legend.”
Her commitment to caring for the dying began with an early study with Barney Glaser and Anselm Strauss in which she assessed the way in which dying patients were cared for. She continued this ground-breaking research in Washington State studying communication patterns and behaviors that surround terminally ill patients in several local hospitals. She found that there was a flurry of invasive activities, even in the face of futility. As result of these studies, Jeanne was able to document that care for the dying was at worst destroying the quality of life’s last moments, and at best it was misdirected and expensive. She worked with local, national and international groups in thanatology and care of the dying to introduce hospice models here. In addition, she developed a graduate program in transition services, and influential masters program that educated hundreds of nurses in caring for people at the end of life.
She mentored faculty as well as students, igniting Dr. Ruth McCorkle’s work in cancer care and Dr. Fran Lewis’ work with nursing families who have a member with cancer, and David Kahn’s conceptualization of suffering. Most, if not all, of the regional nurse leaders in end of life care in Washington State have either studied under Jeanne, or learned from her through her writings, courses, presentations and numerous workshops she gave throughout her career.
Jeanne was the first registered nurse to be president of the International Work Group on Death, Dying and Bereavement. She helped to create and organize a number of international thanatology organizations and is recognized as one of the founders in the field of palliative and hospice care.
To say that Jeanne Quint Benoliel is a “living legend” is an understatement. She has transformed the field of care for dying people. She was the first to bring the family into care for the dying. Her research, joined with Ruth McCorkel’s, continued to focus on system distress, enforced social dependency, and health outcomes for patients and the families. Taken together, Jean’s contributions have helped shape the field of palliative care and hospice care. She has made legendary contributions to nursing that bring honor to the discipline.