Holly McCormack (DNP 2021)

Eyes on the Prize
Holly McCormack

"After working in urban hospitals for a period of years, I wanted something different so my family packed up and moved to northern New Hampshire in the dead of winter where I began a new job with a rural hospital. We love the area and I have worked hard to advance through the ranks to the level of Chief Executive Officer of Cottage Hospital."

McCormack holds a BSN from the University of Rhode Island, an MSN from Saint Joseph’s College in Maine, and graduated in 2021 with a Doctor of Nursing Practice from the University of New Hampshire. She worked as a charge nurse and preceptor at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Rhode Island, then gained extensive administrative experience working with the Rhode Island Blood Center and managing the Blood Donor Room in Providence. Returning to a hospital setting, Holly accepted a position as Assistant Manager of the Postpartum Unit of Woman and Infants Hospital of Rhode Island.

Starting in 2010 as Director of the Medical-Surgical Unit at Cottage Hospital in NH, McCormack advanced to Director of Inpatient Services. With a master’s degree in hand, Holly became Chief of Nursing in 2016, and the following year her staff nominated her for the NH Nurse Association for Nursing Leadership Award. Twelve years after her move to Cottage Hospital, a colleague encouraged her to aim for Chief Executive Officer. Holly’s chair rocks a little faster as she talks excitedly about this leadership opportunity.

“I went for a run to think it over and my decision suddenly became so clear I spontaneously said aloud, “I want to be CEO!” Small hospitals require well-rounded leaders so I had to learn about finance, coding, hiring, mentoring, budgets, statistics and a host of other skills. Although my goal is to ensure this hospital remains on a solid foundation for the future, it is also important to set an example for women in nursing who need encouragement to aim for top tier positions.”

Throughout her career, Holly has looked to other nursing leaders as role models, deriving inspiration that has guided her path since high school. The first person in her family to achieve higher education degrees, she knew from an early age that nursing was her dream and set out to conquer the education milestones for this upward mission.

“The UNH Online DNP program offers excellent value for a high-level education with a broad-reaching slate of courses that prepared me for the multi-faceted role of CEO in a rural hospital. Their nursing instructors are committed to high-touch communication with students and campus visits were a wonderful way to connect with everyone on a personal level. Weekly meetings during my scholarly project helped maintain my focus through job pressures, family needs and the strain of a pandemic. Given the high academic standards and strong faculty support, UNH Online DNP program was a wonderful choice.”

McCormack cites a growing awareness of the spectrum of generational values in the workplace as well as the importance of family life as a cherished support system. With an eye to staff longevity and engagement, she tries to build relationships with individuals, encouraging them to avoid burnout through self-care. On a broader level, Holly goes to great lengths to engage with the next generation.

“Wanting to make education more accessible and affordable to people who believe their dream is beyond their reach, I invited high school groups to tour Cottage Hospital. It was satisfying to foster the discovery of work diversity in the medical field and expand their awareness of the many nursing opportunities that exist outside the hospital setting.”

Looking for an outlet during the pandemic Holly began to train for marathons, running in the early morning with her dog while listening to audiobooks. With a lifetime of experience in setting goals, she paces herself to race faster and longer while challenging herself to become a seasoned leader in her field.

Written by Gwendolyn Goguelet