“My work includes administrative duties, scheduling as part of a team of three chaplains who cover the hospital 24/7, rounding with the medical interdisciplinary teams in Critical Care, and providing spiritual care, counseling, and grief support to patients, their families, and the staff of the hospital,” says Semmes, who has served in this capacity since 2012 at Dignity Health Dominican Hospital.
At Kirkland she majored in American and English literature before beginning what would be a three-pronged professional path. Semmes started out in London working in book publishing. In 1981, she returned stateside and completed a master’s degree at Dartmouth, concentrating on gender studies and medieval history, while working in the college’s libraries. While there, she also gained experience providing religious support to students. “I trained for this in the local hospital, which inspired a complete change in career direction for me,” she says.
In 2007, Semmes received a Master of Divinity degree from Starr King School in Berkeley, Calif., and earned hospital ministry certification from Stanford University Hospital.
“At age 52, I found my true calling in hospital ministry, the third stage of my career,” says Semmes, who is considering pursuing a private practice in spiritual counseling. “The calling to support people in their illness and spiritual journeys is fulfilled when observing the creativity and hope that people mobilize to their personal and collective benefits.”