Holly Madison

Building a Program for Future Nursing Students


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As the director of nursing at Hodges University, Dr. Holly Evans Madison is stepping into a role that has been many years in the making. With more than 20 years of professional experience in not only nursing, but also in education, she is prepared to build and create opportunities for aspiring nursing students in the years to come.

Originally from New Jersey, Madison attended Ramapo College to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Admitting she has always enjoyed discovering how people learn, it was more about caring for people that peaked her interest.

After graduating with her bachelor’s, she learned of a program with Pace University in Pleasantville, New York, that provided a “generic” master’s program in nursing, which she could complete in 15 months.

“I’ve always been the kind of person who likes to do things expeditiously,” she said.

Enrolling at Pace, she admits her experience in the program was very unconventional, saying, “In the ‘80s, my program was not taught by traditional nursing faculty. I was taught by Ph.D. faculty members with backgrounds in psychology and education.”

After graduating with her master’s, she immediately went to work at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, which is now known as New York-Presbyterian, beginning in neurology. “My preceptor thought I would enjoy cardiac much more than neurology, and I discovered it was my passion,” she said.

In working with the brain, Madison didn’t see many areas of excitement or optimism; however, once she changed to working in cardiac, she explained, “When working with cardiac patients, there are many possibilities. I just found it to be a much more hopeful specialty.”

For five years, Madison worked as a staff nurse in the CCU, and as a preceptor, which is also known as a mentor, in the cardiac catheterization laboratory, and in utilization review.

Holly's daughters, Paige and Laura MadisonDeciding it was time for a change, Madison and her twin daughters, Laura and Paige, moved to Vermont in January 1990. Taking a position with Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, which has only 60 beds, she served as a part-time staff educator and part-time cardiac rehabilitation nurse.

In 1993, Madison began her career in academia as a member of the nursing faculty at Southern Vermont College (SVC); however, she maintained a practice as a per diem staff nurse in the ICU at Rutland Regional Medical Center. “It was great because I was able to use Southwestern Vermont Medical Center and the Rutland Regional Medical Center as clinical sites for the students from SVC,” she said. In 1999, she assumed the role of the chair of the nursing programs at SVC. After a successful accreditation of the SVC programs, her academic career expanded when she became a faculty member at Excelsior College.

Looking to fulfill a personal goal and advance in nursing education, Madison earned a Doctor of Philosophy in nursing from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst in 2010. Her dissertation was titled, “What Women Want to Know: Assessing the Value, Relevancy, and Efficacy of a Self-Management Intervention for Rural Women with Coronary Heart Disease.”

With her advanced degree, she went on to become the director of nursing baccalaureate completion program at Maria College from 2010-2014. In her position, she started the first baccalaureate program at the college. During this time, she mentored faculty and staff in education principles and saw the program receive its initial accreditation.

After this period, Madison returned to Excelsior College to serve as the faculty program director for the specialization in nursing leadership and administration of health care systems tract until her departure in October 2016 to join Hodges University.

After spending more than 25 years building her career in Vermont and the Capital region of New York, Madison learned of an open position with Hodges through a former Excelsior student, Tracy Ramsay, who was the former assistant professor and director of program development in the School of Allied Health. Believing all of her prior work was preparing her for this position, Madison applied.

“I had one phone interview and a follow-up Skype interview, and in September, I accepted the position and began planning the move south,” she said.

Settling into her new role as director, Madison spends much of her time planning and creating courses, meeting with local hospital administrators and discovering what the workforce needs are in Southwest Florida. “My job is to develop curriculum for future programs and refine programs which are currently in the works,” she said.

Beginning in January 2017, interested students will have the opportunity to enroll in Hodges’ certified nursing assistant (CNA) program. The 15-week program will include class instruction, as well as two clinical rotations totaling 40 hours. In addition, students complete 165 hours of nursing assistant training, 75 hours of home health aide training and four hours of dementia training. “By the time they are finished with the program, students will not only receive their CNA certificate, but they will also receive home health aide and dementia care certificates,” she said. In addition, students will earn six course credits, which will transfer to the licensed practical nursing (LPN) program, which is currently being developed for a proposed start in May 2017.

“I like the idea of creating a stackable program, which allows students to earn credits that can be transferred to the next program,” she explained.

Working to ensure students can complete their LPN certification in four 15-week terms, Madison is proposing a Bachelor of Science in nursing, which she hopes to launch in September 2017.

“My goal is to build a nursing program that allows for career mobility and embodies the caring practices of nurses. I also want to see our faculty working with students in the same caring manner as they would a patient,” she said. Lastly, Madison does not want to be viewed solely in an administrative role. Instead, she plans to teach.

“I enjoy working with students. It is refreshing, and I enjoy the questions and challenges presented to me. I’ve always been a firm believer in building students up; not tearing them down,” she said.