Born on August 25, 1944, Marcia Collins grew up in Greene in Chenango County, New York. During her early childhood, her family operated a dairy farm.
After graduating high school, Marcia went to nursing school at Wilson Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in Johnson City, New York. During nursing school, she joined the Army Student Nurse Program.
Marcia went to basic training for the Army Nurses Corps at Fort Sam Houston in Texas and then worked at Fort Belvoir in Washington, D.C. in pediatrics and intensive care. Together with a friend through the Buddy System, Marcia volunteered to serve in Vietnam.
In Vietnam, Marcia served at the Eighth Field Hospital in Nha Trang in the surgical unit and surgical intensive care and then served in the 91st Evacuation Hospital at Tuy Hoa in the intensive care unit. She was stationed in Vietnam from December 1966 to December 1967.
After her service, Marcia worked briefly at Wilson Memorial Hospital and then got a job at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Marcia then spent the rest of her career in clinical research, working at Edison Medical Group and then starting her own clinical research business in New Jersey, which she ran with her husband, a medical doctor, for eighteen years.