Scholarship Keeps Alive the Work of Hudson’s Dr. Nola Della-Monica

January 8, 2016

“Nurses may not be angels but they are the next best thing.” –Anonymous


Courtesy photo  Dr. Nola Della-Monica

Courtesy photo Dr. Nola Della-Monica


by Lynne Ober

Former Hudson resident Nola Raye Della-Monica lost her long battle with cancer on Nov. 11, 2014.  A year has passed since her death, yet a scholarship recently established in her name will ensure her legacy lives in through future nurses.

Dr. Della-Monica, known for her quick wit and ready smile, spent more than 30 years as a clinical registered nurse, culminating as the director of several departments at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco before going back to school.  She then received her doctorate from Boston College and served the nursing profession for her last six years as an associate professor of nursing at Emmanuel College in Boston; she was married to Glenn Della-Monica for 36 years.  All who knew her always commented on her happy laugh.

While an associate professor of nursing, Della-Monica helped develop the curriculum that is still being used today.  While a student herself she became aware that the majority of Americans were dissatisfied with the quality of medical care that they received.  For her PhD dissertation she researched the source of this dissatisfaction and what she found would shape how she taught future students.  She was a proponent of nurses listening very carefully to what was being said and what was not being said and this formed her belief that caring was more than technical expertise.  This extensive study helped Dr. Della-Monica advance her philosophy of nursing care as both an art and a science.

As the anniversary of her death approached, those at Emmanuel College decided to honor her by establishing a permanent scholarship in her name for nurses at Emmanuel College.  This scholarship will continue the work Nola believed in so strongly, bringing more nurses to advance their education through the curriculum that she shaped.  As a teacher, Della-Monica honed her work on listening and caring and was able to impart these skills to those she taught.  As a result, she was beloved by both undergraduate and graduate nursing students.  Today that philosophy still dominates the nursing curriculum, and students continue to benefit even after her death.

As a member of the International Association for Human Caring, she spoke passionately about her Nurse Caring Theory as close to home as Boston, and as far afield as Freemantle, Australia.  Her theory, developed while at Boston College, shows that presence in the moment, technical competence and compassion for and connection with the patient are all necessary for the most effective nursing care.

A former student, Regina Davis, who is now working as a registered nurse, said, “We were so lucky to have a kind and articulate professor.  She was instrumental in developing the Master’s of Nursing at Emmanuel College, and she encouraged lifelong learning for all nurses.”

But she didn’t only teach at Emmanuel College.  For nearly three decades, Nola has served the Church of the Nazarene as a Sunday school teacher for children, youth and adults.  She served several terms on the church boards in California and New Hampshire.  As a missionary, she taught children’s classes and helped construct churches in Mexico, Fiji and Panama.

Nola enjoyed travel, especially to Maine and Walt Disney World.  Another of her favorite trips was to Israel where she saw dozens of placed noted in the Bible.  She was also an avid reader of mystery novels and historical works.  She volunteered with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement to develop and provide free ongoing training for students and health care professionals.  With her usual attention to detail, she sought specific feedback from those who took the online class about what worked, what didn’t and how to improve.  As a result, she garnered rave reviews for her work.

As her cancer progressed, Dr. Della-Monica needed many surgeries.  As she lay on the gurney, being wheeled into surgery, Nola never failed to encourage the nurses caring for her to continue on with their education.

Emmanuel College staff recently announced the scholarship in Della-Monica’s name and wrote to former students, “Please join us to ensure that Nola’s work and legacy will continue to be celebrated with each student endowed with this extraordinary gift!  To do this, we need the help of friends, colleagues, and family.  We must raise $25,000 to create an endowed scholarship fund that will continue for many years.  Every contribution will help, big and small.”

Contributions can be made by phone or on their webpage at

To donate call the Emmanuel College Office of Development and Alumni Relations at (617) 735-9771.  The college takes credit cards and asked that each donor “please specify the Nola Della-Monica Endowed Nursing Scholarship Fund” whether making the gift by mail, by phone or by going to the Emmanuel website and looking for the ‘Make a Gift’ link at the bottom right of the Emmanuel College home page.