Catherine Holton, MSN, RN, CNE, recently joined Chamberlain College of Nursing as president of the Charlotte campus, bringing more than 29 years of clinical, academic and nursing leadership experience to the role. We caught up with her recently to learn more about her journey in nursing:
Did you always know you wanted to be a nurse?
From about the age of 8 or 9, I thought I wanted to be a pediatrician. When I was 14, I started volunteering at the local hospital. The biggest thing that I observed was that the nurses were the ones who spent the majority of their time with patients. That’s when it clicked for me. I really wanted to be with the patient, with their family, communicating with them on an ongoing basis and building relationships.
Where did you start your career?
I started my career as an OB-GYN nurse. I discovered during school that bringing new life into the world was my love – it was just so amazing to me. One of the very first patients that I cared for in labor and delivery was in pre-term labor and I spent weeks with her. She ended up delivering a stillborn – it was a very sad experience. She named her baby after me and it just meant the world to me – I still have a relationship with her today. It helped me to see the impact a nurse makes in a patient’s life.
As I was working in labor and delivery, I was asked to be a preceptor for students. Many nurses didn’t like the additional workload of having to have a student along with you – I loved it. I took on that role as a preceptor and eventually applied for a position as a full-time instructor at a community college. I have been teaching ever since.
What’s your favorite part of being a nurse educator?
Everyone says that they love that “a-ha” moment – and that is something that I love. But I also love nurturing students. I remember when I was in nursing school there was a very distinct difference between instructors and how they taught. I made a note to self that if I ever got the opportunity to work with students, I’m going to be like the nurturing instructors. Those instructors gave me confidence and peace and didn’t make me nervous. They really gave me a feeling that they were behind me 100% and that I could do this thing called nursing. That nurturing piece became etched in my brain.
I’ve had students who have lived in their cars before, and it’s just a wonderful feeling when they walk across the stage and you know that you’ve had an integral part in helping them elevate their life to a point where they can support themselves. One of my students was a single mother who had lived in a car with her child for two years. When she graduated, it was a monumental moment for her, but for me as well to see her succeed.
You started in a diploma program and you’re now working on your Doctor of Education degree. Why is continuing education important for nurses?
Healthcare is constantly changing, ever-evolving, and what more important job can you have than to care for the soul of another human being. You need to know the most that you can so that you give the very best care to the person in that bed or in that office. I tell every student that the degree you are earning is great, but don’t stop there.
What drew you to Chamberlain?
Nursing education is really at a very important stage. We’ve been talking about a Bachelor of Science in Nursing being the entry-to-practice since the 50s. But, I think it will likely happen in my working lifetime and it’s exciting to be a part of that change and with a college with as great a reputation as Chamberlain.
What sealed the deal for me was at the end of my interview process, I had an hour phone conversation scheduled with [National President] Susan Groenwald. When I got that invitation, I thought, ‘She’s not going to talk to me for an hour – she doesn’t have the time.’ She talked to me for an hour and 15 minutes and a good portion of that was her asking me what I was going to do to take care of myself so that I could take care of my team and my students. I was so impressed that she really meant what the literature and the website says about Chamberlain Care ® and that she cared in this way about me.
Where can you be found when you’re not at Chamberlain?
My three wonderful children and my granddaughter who is almost 2 – they are all the light of my life. Anytime that I can spend with them, I do. I only have one left at home – he’s a senior in high school this year and he plays club and high school soccer. You will see me at the soccer field with my laptop trying to multitask because I love watching soccer and I love being with him. With it being his last year at home with me, it’s going to be an even bigger passion of mine this year to see every game that I can see.
Meet Catherine Holton at an upcoming open house on the Charlotte campus. Learn more >>
By Lauren Pope
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