R. Gino Chisari, RN, DNP, was named the inaugural incumbent of the Dorothy Ann Heathwood Endowed Chair in Nursing Education.

R. Gino Chisari, RN, DNP, was honored as the inaugural incumbent of the Dorothy Ann Heathwood Endowed Chair in Nursing Education during a celebration on July 12, 2018, in the Paul S. Russell, MD Museum of Medical History and Innovation. Dr. Chisari is director of the Norman Knight Center for Clinical and Professional Development within the Institute for Patient Care and also serves as chief learning officer-nursing for the Lunder-Dineen Health Education Alliance of Maine.

The endowed chair will allow senior faculty members to pursue advanced research while mentoring the next generation of nurses.

Made possible through the generosity of Ann and Desmond “Desi” Heathwood and the Department of Nursing and Patient Care Services, this is the first endowed chair established in nursing education. It will allow senior faculty members to pursue advanced research while mentoring the next generation of nurses. Desi, an Honorary President’s Council Director at Mass General, and Ann Heathwood, a former nurse herself, are loyal donors who have supported a variety of initiatives across the hospital and chose to endow a chair to help further the mission of providing the highest quality of patient care, research and education in the field of nursing.

Champions for Nursing Education

Britain W. Nicholson, MD, senior vice president of Development, emphasized that at Mass General, healthcare education is interprofessional: “We have about 15,000 healthcare learners; relationships with more than 80 educational institutions; and many other programs that extend learning across all career stages and disciplines.” To an audience that included many Mass General nurses, as well the Heathwoods’ adult children, Dr. Nicholson described Desi and Ann Heathwood as “champions for nursing education” and expressed his belief that this chair will inspire other gifts to support the hospital’s education mission.

Dr. Nicholson said the Heathwoods’ philanthropy has touched many areas of the hospital and described the chair as a “three-fold” gift. “It benefits not only the incumbent; it benefits the staff,” he said. “But most importantly, it benefits the patients not only here in Boston but literally around the world.”

“I cannot think of a better person to have her name on a nursing chair.”

Jeanette Ives Erickson, RN, DNP, chief nurse emerita at Mass General, echoed this sentiment and congratulated the nursing staff in attendance for the important work they do every day. Dr. Erickson went on to describe an afternoon she spent with Ann Heathwood touring the Medical Intensive Care Unit at Mass General. Mrs. Heathwood was interested in seeing how things had changed since she left practice. Dr. Erickson told the audience that Mrs. Heathwood spent time at the bedside of several vulnerable patients and that “her care and her compassion and her skill were very evident.” Dr. Erickson added, “I cannot think of a better person to have her name on a nursing chair.”

Journeys in Nursing

Ann Heathwood recounted her own journey in nursing that found her working in hospitals from one end of the country to the other while her husband finished his education.

Debbie Burke, RN, DNP, MBA, NEA-BC, senior vice president for Patient Care and chief nurse at Mass General, spoke of her long friendship with Dr. Chisari, the chair incumbent. With great humor, she described Dr. Chisari’s passion and gift for teaching, as well as his dedication to patients’ needs. Dr. Burke offered a sampling of the many responsibilities Dr. Chisari carries out with grace and professionalism, including teaching, mentoring, serving as chief learning officer for the Lunder-Dineen Health Education Alliance of Maine and designing curricula for the Shanghai Jiahui International Hospital.

“Gino has spent his entire career moving the profession of nursing forward …”

“Gino has spent his entire career moving the profession of nursing forward, educating generations of professionals here at MGH and around the world,” she concluded.

Dr. Chisari thanked colleagues and then gave a very moving account of his journey to the nursing profession. From his family’s initial support, to a high-school health instructor who encouraged him, to experienced Mass General nurses who mentored him, he credited the many people who made his career possible. His pride in Mass General and his reverence for his colleagues were unmistakably clear, as was his gratitude to the Heathwoods. He shared his eagerness to begin the work of using nursing education “as a primary vehicle for transforming patient and family-centered care.”

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