Need a Nurse for That? Listen to YSN Alum’s Podcast

July 21, 2020

Angelarosa DiDonato ’18 DNP has an oft-repeated saying: “I have a nurse for that!” And if you listen to her Amplify Nursing podcast, you can hear how true that is.

An early episode features a chat with retired Rear Admiral Karen Flaherty-Oxler, MSN, RN, the first woman CEO of the Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center in Philadelphia. In her interview with DiDonato, Flaherty-Oxler shares how her nearly four decades of service with the U.S. Navy provide unique insight into the challenges veterans face when navigating their own care. 

“She’s one of the most dynamic leaders I’ve ever met,” DiDonato said. “If I were a nursing student and heard her talk, I would want to go work for her at the VA after graduation!”

DiDonato discussed the intricacies of public-school nursing with Robin Cogan, MEd, RN, NCSN, author of The Relentless School Nurse blog and advocate for nurses as change agents in their communities. Cogan’s guiding principle is “Be relentless in your practice, whatever it is.”

An April episode features Cathy Crowe expounding on her second book: A Knapsack Full of Dreams: Memoirs of a Street Nurse. The book recounts Crowe’s social justice work and 30 years of caring for Canada’s homeless population. 

DiDonato hopes the podcast can showcase the depth of nursing. “That includes community nursing, school nursing, and public health nursing. There are spaces that we’ve never occupied before or occupied very little, but we could move into that space and make such an incredible difference in the lives of the people in our communities,” she said. “Nurses in general wait to be asked. We wonder why no one is asking us. We as a profession need to step into these spaces and speak up.” 

DiDonato has also tapped the chief nursing officer at Microsoft, a senior director at Johnson & Johnson, and president of the Society for Nurse Scientists, Innovators, Entrepreneurs, and Leaders (SONSIEL) to share their approach to the Nurse Hack for Health: COVID-19 virtual hackathon.

Legislation Leads to Podcast Inspiration

Amplify Nursing premiered in January at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and serves as a handy reference for colleagues in her policy work in Pennsylvania. 

“I am a certified registered nurse anesthetist by training and president of the PA state organization. I spent a lot of time in Harrisburg lobbying and talking to legislators, and one of the things I encountered is that no one knows what nurses do. If we CRNAs do our jobs well, no one notices. And it can be really frustrating that people making important policy decisions affecting our practice don’t understand our challenges. I thought it would be helpful to say to a legislator, ‘I have a resource for you,’ and then be able to share this material. That’s where it started for me.”

DiDonato does not have a background in media, but Amplify Nursing allows her to explore a variety of nursing disciplines and bring nursing and nurses to a wider audience. She draws on some of her own favorite pods for inspiration, such as NPR’s Hidden Brain, Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard, and The Happiness Lab by Yale’s Laurie Santos.

Nurses as Problem Solvers

DiDonato has also welcomed multiple YSN affiliates to the podcast. A special COVID-19 episode in May features lecturer Dr. Sascha James-Conterelli, DNP, CNM, FACNM. As co-chair of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s maternal morbidity and racial disparity task force, James-Conterelli is using her experience and her expertise to create policy change at the state and national level. James-Conterelli also speaks to the additional burdens marginalized communities face during COVID-19 for treatment and care.

“Some of the episodes can be fairly specific to a nursing audience,” DiDonato said. “But this episode is applicable to everyone. Everyone should understand that there are racial disparities in healthcare.”

In June, Amplify Nursing featured DiDonato’s YSN classmates Dr. Pritma Dhillon-Chattha ’18 DNP, MHA, RN and Dr. Brighid A. Gannon ’18 DNP, PMHNP-BC to discuss Lavender, the online mental health practice they launched during COVID-19. Dhillon-Chattha and Gannon formed their entrepreneurial partnership quickly, responding to an overwhelming request for treatment referrals in New York.

“The COVID pandemic highlighted many negative aspects of our healthcare systems, but a big positive highlight was nursing. You can see the ability of nurses and nursing to change on a dime and problem solve,” DiDonato said. “We’re the linchpin that holds healthcare together. We know what everyone else’s job is.”

Coming Up Next

In the upcoming season finale DiDonato interviews Ann Burgess D.N.Sc., APRN, FAAN, a pioneer renowned for her research on the assessment and treatment of victims of trauma and abuse. Burgess also worked with the FBI on the profiling of serial killers and has become familiar in the popular culture landscape as the inspiration for the character Dr. Wendy Carr on the Netflix series Mindhunter

The second season of Amplify Nursing will start rolling later this summer.