Massachusetts Association of Occupational Health Nurses

My Story: Donna Ferreira ANP, MS, COHN-S, FAAOHN

Posted 7 months ago by Nancy Clover

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Donna Ferreira has given generously of her time and expertise to mentor & educate Occ Health Nurses. Here is her story.

My Occupational Health Story:  Donna Ferreira ANP, MS, COHN-S, FAAOHN

My nursing career began at Fitchburg State College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing and an amazing four years on the volleyball team.  I then worked in Medical Surgical Nursing at Leominster and So. Shore Hospitals.  I became a visiting nurse for five years for Nashoba Nursing Service in north central Massachusetts.  I didn’t realize it then, but I was beginning my occupational health experience when I checked blood pressures at the local businesses and performed TB testing for the Fire dept. where I was a town nurse. Back to school to get my Master’s Degree and NP certification where I learned about occupational health in depth.  I was hired by my greatest mentor in the field, Chuck Lutton MD, PhD and worked as a nurse practitioner (NP) and then manager of the occupational health department for eighteen years at New England Electric which became National Grid. Favorite memories working at the utility include riding up in a bucket on a line truck, flying to Nantucket to conduct DOT exams and trainings, tours inside Bear Swamp which is a generation station inside a mountain, and seeing inside dams along the Connecticut River.  I drove to the most northern parts of NH to conduct DOT physicals and had to hang the eye chart on a nearby tree as the company building was smaller than 20 feet!  Highlights included union negotiations, and presenting at several national conferences on occupational health topics such as confidentiality and documenting successes.  In 1998, I was fortunate to travel with Joyce Wells NP to Australia to present on NP Opportunities after Downsizing at an international NP conference.  I was also featured on the cover of the Boston Globe’s On Call for an article about “Nurses on the Job.” 

Jennifer Lim, another outstanding leader and mentor in occupational health nursing, hired me into a management position and NP for Comprehensive Health Services (CHS), now Premise Health where I have been for twelve years.  While remaining clinical as an NP, I was the Sr. Account Manager for Premise Health for a large defense company managing twelve onsite health centers in MA, RI, and IN.  Jennifer and CHS provided me with many opportunities to frequently travel across the country to manage staff, present education programs, and become a subject matter expert in audit preparation.  I have appreciated all the opportunities to grow my nursing knowledge, business acumen, and to meet and work with so many wonderful people. 

Participating, serving, and presenting for our occupational health nursing organizations both locally and nationally have provided networking and learning opportunities. 

Awards included the 2014 Nurse Excellence Award from MaAOHN and in 2012 received Fellow status from the American Association of Occupational Health.  I also received several FAME Awards from MaAOHN.


AAOHN Engagement was demonstrated by serving on the MaAOHN Board of Directors for years.  Elections included: President CMAOHN 2015-2017, Vice President CMAOHN 2014-2016 and Vice President MaAOHN 2008-2010.  I have been a 30 year member of AAOHN, NEOHN, MaOHN, CMAOHN.



  • Occupational Health Management, March 2010:  Cover Article “Was an employee injured today?  Take these actions immediately Vol. 20, #3 and interview with Donna Ferreira and Christine Zichello
  • Occupational Health Management, December 2005:  Cover Article “Sail the Seven “Cs” to Efficient and Effective Occupational Health Nursing” an interview with Donna Ferreira
  • Wells J, Ferreira D: Guidelines for the Department of Transportation Physical Examination. The Nurse Practitioner 1999 Vol.24 #5: 78-98.


It has been a joy to have provided over sixty presentations from local to international venues.  Below are the recent presentations:

  • Tips and Tools for the Occupational Health Nurse – December 2018 for NECOEM in Newton, MA
  • What Would You Do? - April 2017 for AAOHN in New Orleans, 2016 for AAOHN in Florida, April 2014 for CMAOHN
  • Handy Approaches to Managing Hand Injuries – April 2015 for AAOHN in Boston
  • Emergency Response in the Workplace – April 2015 for AAOHN in Boston
  • Journey to Best Practices in Occupational Health Nursing – presented with A. Teusch in April 2014 for AAOHN in Dallas
  • Life is a Highway: Transporting the Ill/Injured Worker – April 2012 for AAOHN in Nashville, TN
  • The Knee Exam – Nov. 2011, North of Boston OHN, Woburn, MA
  • Taking the Exceptional Occupational Health History - July 2011 at SEAK, Hyannis, MA and Oct. 2011 at VT OHN Annual Meeting, Rutland VT
  • OSHA VPP: Are You Ready? – May 2011 for AAOHN in Atlanta, GA and with OSHA at NECOEM in December 2009

About Occupational Health Nursing:  This is an incredible branch of nursing.  We assist employees to be healthy and safe at work.  Nurses in this field need to know about a vast array of subjects including all aspects of adult health, business and management, safety, laws and regulations, and communication skills with a keen sense of customer service.  It’s a mixed bag for sure and our craft is under communicated to the general public.  My greatest joys have been helping employees and mentoring/sharing my three decades of experience in occupational health with colleagues whether it is lecturing at a large conference hall or one on one in the work setting. 


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