Diane D’Onofrio’s Nursing Story

Please read Diane D’Onofrio’s nursing story – it will give you chills:

I have been an RN since 1987. As a child, I spent a lot of time sitting in hospital waiting rooms as my mom visited my grandmother. I guess I always felt helpless because I couldn’t see her, yet I wanted her to get well and come home. I also had a great interest in watching medical shows on TV, especially those that took place in ER settings. I think my grandmother was my biggest inspiration to go to nursing school.

When I graduated, I was young, energetic, and somewhat of an adrenalin junkie. At the time, the ER was the only place I wanted to work. I was advised to initially work on a med-surg unit to learn the basics, so I did. It wasn’t where I wanted to be, but I did learn enough to get me to the ER. After this, I worked in Emergency Departments at large teaching hospitals in NYC. It was very exciting, and I learned so much, but over time, I wanted to focus more on my personal life. I didn’t know where to go in nursing. I knew I did not want to work in a hospital, yet I wanted to be in a setting where I can apply all the great knowledge I obtained from the ER.

In 1992 I saw an ad for an OHN at American Express in downtown NYC. I decided to give it a try. I was amazed at what this medical department provided for their employees. Three physicians, four RNs and a social worker. It was like a mini hospital and we did everything from annual physicals, to emergency care and everything in between. I immediately liked it. The nurses worked very independently, and I was using so many of the skills I learned from the hospital. In February of 1993, the World Trade Center’s parking garage was bombed, causing mass chaos, many injuries, and several deaths. American Express was located in the building connected to this disaster. Our team grabbed as many medical supplies as we could and ran down to the Winter Garden in the WTC to help the victims. We were the first medical team to arrive before EMS, police or the fire department. Victims saw our white coats and were literally running over for help. Soon thereafter all the emergency responders arrived. It was madness, yet we stayed to help. Some victims were burned, and a lot of them had smoke inhalation. I stayed until the evening, arriving home at 10:00pm. We each received an award from the American Red Cross for being first responders that day. I never imagined what would follow in 2001 but I had already moved on from AMEX.

A few years later I took a job at Sanofi Pharmaceuticals as a solo OHN. I liked having the independence and yet I had to know my stuff if someone became ill. I arranged many wellness programs for the employees and worked with a network of physicians, should the employee need further medical care. Eventually, the company eliminated the OHN department at this location.

I tried a few other areas of nursing such as legal nurse consulting and quality management but missed OHN. I’d search but it was hard to find an OHN job that was suitable to my needs at the time. I moved to Westchester NY in 2004 and took a per-diem job at a Lithotripsy/Urological ambulatory procedure center. Five years ago, I started working per-diem at Siemens Healthineers as an OHN. At Siemens, I provide first aid/emergency/basic medical care and wellness programs. I currently work at both places and enjoy having the best of two different fields of nursing.

My advice to the next generation of nurses would be to initially work in an ER or critical care setting because it is the key to having the confidence and knowledge you will need for OHN. Also never stop learning!
For fun I like to walk with friends, playing/walking my dog and taking vacations at the beach.