Posted April 13, 2022
So much of Madison Van Dine’s decision to become a prenatal nurse was driven by memories that aren’t even her own. But those memories have helped shape Van Dine into the person she is today.
“My twin sister and I were born two months early and we spent one month in the newborn intensive care unit at Metro Hospital,” Van Dine says. “My parents would always talk about the positive impact the NICU nurses had on them even to this day.”
Inspired by those nurses, who both informed and comforted her parents during one of the most frightening times of their lives, Van Dine decided to shadow her cousin, a nurse practitioner, while in high school. The experience set her path in stone.
“Seeing him interact with his patients and touch the patients’ hand and give them compassion made me want to give care like that,” she says. “Nurses are the backbone of health care; really spending the most time with the patients.”
Van Dine’s career goals were clear, but her pathway there seemed impassable at times. In fall 2017 the Elyria Catholic High School graduate began attending Ohio University to study nursing. After one semester, Van Dine began struggling with severe depression and anxiety.
“It quickly became debilitating and took over my entire life,” Van Dine recalls.
Van Dine moved back home in February 2018 and brought with her crushing self-doubt.
“When I came home from Ohio University, I thought, I cannot be a nurse like this,” she recalls. “How can I take care of people if I can’t even take care of myself?”
Van Dine decided to seek professional help and began seeing a licensed therapist. It was difficult for her to open up at first, but week by week, it got easier to share her thoughts and fears. She also learned coping mechanisms like meditation and journaling, which helped her release some of the dark thoughts in her mind.
The process was slow and at times, Van Dine felt like she had regressed to her childhood.
“I never wanted to be alone and always wanted to be around my family,” she says. “I had to learn how to live again.”
Van Dine knew part of that living meant going back to school to pursue her dream. In March 2018 she enrolled at Lorain County Community College to finish her pre-nursing classes.
“Starting classes again was difficult for me,” she says. “I was worried that I did not know anyone and was not familiar with the campus.”
But soon, Van Dine found herself feeling at home and at ease at LCCC.
“I felt welcomed and heard when meeting with my advisor,” she says. “It felt nice knowing that the professors took the time to get to know the students in their class, it made me feel important.”
Among those professors was Hannah Patawaran, assistant professor of nursing.
“Madison overcame hurdles while in the nursing program and instead of using those hurdles as stumbling blocks, she piled them together for steppingstones to success,” says Patawaran.
Van Dine has been open about her struggles not only with her classmates and her instructors, but with her 70,000 YouTube followers. She started her channel – madi’s nursing journey – in August 2018 to chronicle her time in nursing school and hopefully help others on the same journey.
“There were all these videos about how people studied to get into nursing school, but there weren’t many related to going through nursing school,” Van Dine says.
So she started one, posting videos about how to organize yourself, how to study effectively, and how to overcome specific barriers, including mental health. Van Dine hopes that by sharing her own inner barriers, she’ll help others feel less alone.
“The struggle of depression and anxiety is one of the most isolating experiences I have ever gone through,” she says. “With the help of my family, therapist, and my faith I was on my way toward healing.”
And Van Dine has made a promise to herself to help others move toward the same healing, both mental and physical, by always listening.
“I will go above and beyond for my patients to make sure they feel seen and heard no matter what the circumstance is,” she says. “I want to be the light in their darkest times.”
At just 22 years old, Van Dine already is that light and her LCCC professors saw it. During the December 2021 nurse pinning ceremony, Van Dine was presented with the Florence Nightingale Student Nurse Award for Nursing Excellence.
“I was so honored to have won – it was a moment I will never forget,” Van Dine says. “It was amazing to know that my actions were appreciated by others and had positive effects on the lives of others.”
Van Dine will continue making a positive impact as she begins her career as a labor and delivery nurse at Mercy Hospital. And at the start of every shift, one where she might be caring for a newborn in the NICU like she once was with her sister, Van Dine remembers the lasting impression the nurses had on her parents.
“I want to make someone who’s going through their hardest time feel that I’m there for them,” she says. “I’d like for them to think, ‘This is really hard, but Madison’s coming back to be my nurse today.’ Because it makes all the difference when you have a nurse who is attentive, compassionate and truly listening to what you have to say.”