Jocelyn Bessett Gorlin and Liz McDonough

Recorded July 30, 2015 Archived October 14, 2015 43:01 minutes
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Id: lsk001364


Jocelyn Bessett Gorlin (56) is interviewed by her friend Liz McDonough (64) about her childhood in Connecticut, her relationship with her parents and four siblings and how she decided to become a nurse. She also discusses how she met her husband and their travels together providing healthcare training to nurses abroad. Jocelyn talks in depth about her experiences in the 1980s working with patients with AIDS and Hemophilia.

Subject Log / Time Code

Jocelyn Bessette Gorlin (JBG) discusses her childhood in Connecticut, her four siblings and her family. They lived in the suburbs, though her father commuted into NYC, where his office overlooked the Statue of Liberty. JGB describes her father as quite handy around the house and a hardworker. JGB's dad taught her about working hard.
JGB has a French family. One cousin, Andre Bessett, was a saint. When JGB went to Montreal there was an oratory that was dedicated to him.
JGB talks about where she grew up in Richfield, CT, and it being more rural than it is now. JGB talks about her childhood adventures with her sisters, especially in the fall. JGB's mom took care of all the neighborhood children, including JGB's best friend.
JGB became a nurse, in part because of her mom. JGB really likes art and always brought that into her work. She took art in college and painted throughout her life. JGB went to Villanova in Philadelphia, a Catholic school, though she doesn't feel very religious.
JGB talks about her time as a student nurse in Philadelphia and her career at Yale New Haven Hospital. JGB talks about being born at that same hospital and also treated for tuberculosis when she was a child. JGB talks about how this hospital was a big part of her life and how she met her husband there. JGB talks about her time on the ward where she worked with children.
JGB went to graduate school to be a nurse practitioner, which is when she met her husband. JGB talks about her husband, and how they started to date. JGB liked her husband because he was very "real". For the first few times, they were apart, as JGB still lived and worked in CT and her husband was in Boston. When JGB graduated, she moved to Boston and she talks about how it was hard at the beginning to understand what a nurse practitioner is, as it was a "new" profession.
JGB talks about what it means to be a nurse and the role they have in a hospital. JGB's husband, Jed, has been her biggest cheerleader.
JGB discusses her work with hemophilia and HIV/AIDS, especially during the 1980s. The hospital in Boston wanted to start a comprehensive center, so a doctor, Diana Beardsley (?), hired her to work as a nurse practitioner with hemophilia patients. JGB knew nothing about hemophilia really, but she learned. JGB took the job and started calling people to get them to come into the clinic.
JGB worked with HIV/AIDS before it was widely known or understood. Children who had hemophilia had a hot pink sticker stuck to their bed that said to be careful with the blood and fluids.
JGB talks about her work with children who had AIDS in the early 80's and becoming an advocate for their parents. The doctor JGB worked for, Diana Beardsley used a heat treated factor to help treat kids with hepatitis, though many other hospitals wouldn't, but in the end this treatment saved a lot of children.
JGB talks a lot about ethical issues, especially children who were given a pink sticker, even when they didn't necessarily have AIDS. JGB and her colleagues did a lot of AIDS trainings to help prevent spreading the disease.
JBG discusses the purpose and meaning being a nurse, and her work with the various families she has encountered over time. JBG feels very lucky to be a nurse because it's a mix between the physical and the psychological. JBG feels her life now has purpose and meaning due to her work as a nurse. JBG believes that religion shows that, that people are good and do good deeds help. JBG and her husband work as a team and this is something she truly appreciates.
JBG and her husband Jed went to Armenia to work together; JBG gave a lot of classes and her husband helped with the blood bank there. JBG gave a lot of trainings to the nurses there, who were so excited to learn from her. JBG took the nurses on some house visits to children to observe how they were living and to help the nurses there see what they were doing.
JBG and her husband had children and at some point JBG gave up working for a few years and then later she went back part time. JBG learned a lot from her parents about hard work and continuing forward. JBG discusses Jed's parents and Jed also giving her a lot of support to continue forward.
JBG mentions the people who are the most helpful throughout her life, including her children who are all unique, and she's quite proud of them. JBG discusses her child raising skills, and her focus on raising good people. JBG talks about her mother-in-law and how great they were for JBG's family. JBG thinks her mother-in-law was a very gracious woman and a good soul. JBG really appreciated both her in-laws.
JBG leaves a memory for her parents and in-laws for letting her sit on their shoulders and teaching her to make the world a better place.


  • Jocelyn Bessett Gorlin
  • Liz McDonough

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