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Rhode Island Nurses In Action: Donna Policastro

Posted 13 days ago by Sadye Savoir

Rhode Island Nurses In Action                                                                                     

Donna Policastro

ADN: Roger Williams Hospital School of Nursing- 1969
MSN: New Jersey College of Medicine and Dentistry- Women’s Health NP- 1976 

Why did you choose nursing?
I came of age in the 1950's and 1960's where the opportunities for young women were stereotypical, e.g., teacher, secretary, or nurse. I was also exposed to nursing through TV dramas and a series of Cherry Ames books. But I also realized that I needed to be exposed to the profession, so I became a "Candy Striper" at the age of 15. I was "hooked".

What was your career path?
I started my career in the ED. I knew early on that I wanted a less traditional path. After over a year in the ED, I recognized that many "emergencies" were mental health issues. So, I became a staff nurse at Butler Hospital. In the early 70's Butler was the only "open door" private psychiatric hospital in the country. It was an interesting time. I had the privilege of working with Conscientious Objectors as the Viet Nam war was raging. I loved psych nursing. The journey continued to Community Health and I worked for the Providence Health Centers for almost 10 years. It was the awakening of my "social conscience". As an NP-fast forward- I worked at the Brown Family Practice Program, private clinical research company, Planned Parenthood and finally private practice. In 2006, I became Executive Director of RISNA and finally in 2016, I formed THE POLICASTRO GROUP, a consulting group with a focus, on association management, advocacy, grant writing, strategic planning etc.

What do you find most satisfying about your current nursing role / activity?
I love advocating for nurses and the nursing profession.

What is a non-work- related activity that brings you joy? Travel, travel, and travel!!

What is one thing you don't think the general public understands about Nursing generally or about your field of nursing specifically?
I think that the public does not comprehend the breadth and depth of the nursing profession. My field of nursing is advocacy-in other words-protecting the profession and assisting my fellow nurses to find their "voices" to affect positive change for the profession.

Donna Policastro is Founder of the Policastro Group, a consulting agency that advocates for nurses through political work, consulting, and education. She is also the CEO of Rhode Island State Nurses Association! She is eager to talk with nurses about their role in political advocacy, education, nurse practitioner roles. She can be reached at

To read more of these amazing interviews, visit RI State Nurses Association (ANA- RI) and look under the Membership tab- Nurses In Action folder. We are amazing and diverse and EVERYWHERE!