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Associate Dean of Allied Health & Nursing Celebrates 50 Years in the Profession

by Melinda Casilli on May 12, 2022

Doris Wilderman

Doris Wilderman is the Associate Dean of Allied Health and Nursing at Hocking College, and after 50 years in the healthcare field, Wilderman still has a deep passion for nursing. She's seen many changes over the years in healthcare. Some changes have been incredible, due to breakthroughs in technology that allow doctors to diagnose diseases earlier, saving countless lives. 


Other changes haven't been as positive, such as the strict policies insurance companies place on hospitals concerning the length of time patients can stay in the hospital after a procedure, or the rules concerning the types of treatments patients can receive. Recently, staff shortages from nurses quitting due to the pandemic and nurses retiring have put a strain on the healthcare field, and patient care is what suffers. 


Wilderman grew up in Missouri, surrounded by lots of love from her parents no matter how hard things got. Her father lost his job when she was around 10-years-old, and she remembers her mother selling everything they owned except for a few belongings. Those items were loaded into their car, then her mother drove Wilderman along with her two sisters to a work camp where her father had found a job cleaning bricks. 


Since they didn't have money for rent, the entire family slept in the foreman's office at the work camp. There wasn't heat, electricity, or running water, and at times they slept in their car with the heat running to stay warm. During all of this time, Wilderman never realized they were homeless. Her parents made each day an adventure which had her thinking they were just on a long vacation. They also did things other families were doing, like going to the park, the lake, and the state fair. 


She had a few toys, sharing a bike, a monopoly game, coloring books, and crayons with her two sisters. Their clothes were always clean, using the local laundromat as other families did. Her parents also always made sure they had plenty of food. She remembers her mother cooking on a metal grate outside, and her father used a large Coleman cooler that he would keep filled with milk, cereal, eggs, etc. 


When she was around 14-years-old, she put the pieces together about those couple of years and realized they had been homeless. Wilderman remembers making a conscious decision at a young age to do everything in her power to never be in that situation again. She would work hard and always have a job. During her sophomore year in high school, while most students enjoyed after-school activities, she worked to help support her family after her dad had a heart attack.


Wilderman is also passionate about giving back. When she was a senior in high school, she remembers sitting in her school's auditorium for an assembly to announce the names of seniors who had won scholarships. Wilderman was busy in her notebook when the girl sitting next to her told her they had called her name. Wilderman then heard her name spoken over the loudspeaker. She had just won a full two-year scholarship to the local community college. 


Winning that scholarship allowed her to go to college and be the first generation in her family to do so. She realized the gift given to her and decided to one day get into education to give back. 


She graduated high school in 1969 and started nursing school at Florida Community College that same year. She also began working as a nurse's aide at the local hospital during this time to help her learn more about the field. She graduated from nursing school in 1972 and began working as a graduate nurse at St. Luke's Hospital in Jacksonville, FL., before becoming a registered nurse after taking the boards.


When Wilderman became a nurse, IVs were glass bottles that nurses had to mark lines on to track the amount of fluid a patient was receiving, and uniforms were crisp and white with matching white stockings. The one thing she loved when she started working was the nurses she worked with, they were some of the best in the field and taught her so much. 


She worked in different areas throughout her career, including surgery and on some special teams such as the open-heart team, trauma, and brain surgery. She often worked doubles, working her regular shift and then taking a second shift on one of the floors to keep her skill set up. 


She's had some cool experiences that made her realize the awesomeness of the human body. She once held a human heart in her hands and realized that the organ would soon give someone life. 


Wilderman began teaching at Jones College in Jacksonville, Fl. in 1982. She was the Medical Assisting Instructor and Clinical Coordinator. That position began her teaching career that has spanned 29 years. During those years she was the Medical Assisting Instructor at Ivy Vocational Technical College, in Sellersburg, IN. The Director of Education & Medical Assisting Instructor at the International Career Institute, in Tallahassee, Fl. And the Medical Assisting Program Manager and Instructor at Keiser University, in Tallahassee, Fl. before coming to Hocking College in 2017. 


Wilderman also has 10 years of experience working in long-term care, which was a perfect fit, because of her love for geriatrics. She became family to the patients who didn't have visitors come to visit them or no longer had any family or friends. She held her patient's hands as they passed, being there for them when no one else was. During these years she would often have her children come to visit her at work and also the patients. 


While working at Keiser University, she took classes and earned an Associate of Science in Business Administration, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and a Master of Science in Nursing. Her GPA for each degree was 4.0.


Wilderman loves educating the next generation of nurses. She feels a great obligation to instill in her students the awesome responsibility they will have every day. She wants to make sure they realize the trust patients and their loved ones put in nurses. Her goal is for her students to enter the field with a strong foundation to build on, to develop a good work ethic, and empathy for their patients. She believes students need integrity, compassion, and honesty to be successful nurses.


Wilderman wouldn't change a thing over her 50 years of nursing. Each part of her career has been special and so rewarding. She especially loves graduation, feeling proud of the student’s enormous growth and becoming confident in their skills, instead of being scared and anxious. She has witnessed their struggles and for them to finally walk across the stage and accept their degree is an accomplishment. Wilderman knows they will go on to do great things in nursing, helping those around them and in their communities.  

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