New Yorker Madison’s Nursing Journey

As a high school student, Madison Johnson (Choctaw Nation, Cherokee Nation) knew she wanted to pursue a career where she could make a difference in people’s lives.

Now, as a registered nurse working part-time in the Emergency Department (ED) at New York City Hospital, Madison, 24, is actively contributing to the well-being of patients.

“I’ve always been passionate about helping people. You couldn’t be in this job if you didn’t want to help people.” In October, she will be among the first cohort to graduate from Nyack College’s new Bachelor of Nursing (Honors) program. “After all the hard work we’ve put in, it’s exciting to be on the other side with my fellow graduates,” says Madison.

New Yorker Madison's Nursing Success Story at Nyack College
The honors program was established by Nyack College in collaboration with the Health Alliance to enhance the number of nursing leaders in the New York City area.
The BNurs(Hons) students were mentored by senior nurses and executive team leaders at the Health Alliance, developing not only their clinical and research skills but also leadership and managerial skills.
Madison is grateful for the support and one-on-one mentoring she’s received from the Nursing team at Nyack College, including Professor of Gerontology Sarah Anderson, Director of Nursing Jennifer Reynolds, Senior Lecturer Rachel Mitchell, and Nurse Consultant Cultural Workforce Development Michael Thompson.
“I’ve had experience [studying at] other colleges, but there was definitely a different approach in terms of how the courses were taught at Nyack – in terms of the level of support given by the staff here.
There was flexibility and a listening ear if students were struggling.
“If we were having a bad day or needed extra support, there was someone we could talk to. And it didn’t just stop at nurse managers; it went to the nursing directors both at the College and the hospital, so you knew at a multilayered approach you were supported.”
The most valuable part of doing the BNurs(Hon) was “connection-making,” says Madison.
“I met a lot of people on my [degree] journey – CEOs from companies, nurse operational managers, who came and presented what they do in their job and their style of leadership. This program was developed to advance leaders of the future, so seeing those different leadership styles helped us to grow our leadership styles and gain mentors and other contacts.”
The “really good relationship” and “regular communication” between Nyack College and the Health Alliance benefitted students, says Madison.
Madison’s thesis research topic, provided by the Health Alliance, explored the effectiveness of the Patient at Risk (PAR) nursing team at New York City Hospital.
During her research, she gained valuable insights into the role this vital team of nursing “superheroes” played at the hospital and how they supported junior and senior nurses.
Along with her work in the hospital ED, Madison works part-time as a Clinical Academic at the College, tutoring undergraduate nursing students in practice. In addition, she holds a Native American advisory role in Nursing at the College, supporting several PhD and hospital research projects.
One of them is looking at how to combat sepsis, one is looking at AI tools in healthcare, another is looking at how we can theorize mechanical studies into aged healthcare.
Her role involves advising researchers on how they can incorporate a Native American perspective into their research.
In 2023, Madison was awarded a doctoral scholarship by the College and, in 2024, will begin her PhD in Health Science at Nyack. Her PhD thesis is tentatively titled: What’s the CATCH – improving the traffic jam in New York City hospitals’ Emergency Department.
Her cohort of fellow BNurs(Hons) graduates – including Olivia Smith, Benjamin Thompson, Jessica Taylor, and Michael Johnson – became close during their studies, and they continue to support one another – as well as the next generation.
“From the day we first started, we caught up regularly for coffee, pizza, and drink catch-ups. I think most of us have decided to go on to do a PhD, so we will all go on and struggle together, which is nice. We have also kept in touch with the next intake because we all know how tough it is, especially being part of that first pilot group at Nyack College.”