Deniese Mulholland, a Teacher of Nurse Assisting at the Milliken Technical Center, had no problem imagining herself in a set of nurse’s scrubs when she was a child. In fact, it was a distinction she got to practice every year.
“When I was a girl, my older cousin was a nurse,” Mulholland said. “Every Halloween, she dressed me in her nursing uniform. She graduated in 1987 so they had the old wool cape and the pill box hat. Then she’d take all her pins, and pin them on me. And that’s what made me think, ‘I want to do this.’”
Deniese’s path to becoming a nurse started with becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). As an adult, she enrolled in the ESBOCES Adult Education CNA program, attending class at night while she worked full time in an ophthalmologist’s office. When she graduated, she spent 19 years working as a nursing assistant.
One day, while working in an emergency room, a coworker suggested to Deniese that it was time to further her career. Despite her love of being a nursing assistant, she agreed, and enrolled first in Suffolk Community College’s Registered Nursing program, and then got her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Empire State College.
Deniese had been working as an RN for four years when a friend told her about an opening teaching Nursing Assisting at ESBOCES. She applied, and was elated when she found she was hired for the position.
Currently in her first year of teaching, Deniese is eager to give her students the best she can possibly offer. “I’m very nervous because I want them all to succeed,” she said. “I put a lot of pressure on myself to make sure that they know what they need to know in time for their tests. I hope that nervousness goes away. You want to give them so much, but I don’t have time to give them everything. They’re only here for one year.”
The students in Deniese’s class benefit from her long career. Deniese worked for over 25 years in the medical field, and is able to impart wisdom about a variety of topics, from procedures, to paying for your education.
“I tell them if it wasn’t for this program I wouldn’t have been able to go to nursing school because I couldn’t afford it unless I took out a bunch of loans. When I graduated and started working as a CNA, the hospital paid for my schooling because I was studying medicine. I didn’t need to take any student loans.”
More than anything, Deniese shows what you can accomplish when you love what you do.
“Being a CNA was my favorite job ever because I spent the most time with patients,” Deniese said.
“My personal belief is that you’re the front line of the nurse and the Dr. If you’re in the room and you’re checking with your patient every day, you’ll be the first to notice something and catch it early. It’s so rewarding.”