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Nursing Career Spotlight: Donna Roberts Potter, RN

Written by: Donna Roberts Potter, RN
Published on: Oct 6, 2022

Donna Roberts Potter
Donna Roberts Potter, RN

Nurses connected to the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) share insights, knowledge and expertise about career opportunities, growth and development. Today we hear from Donna Roberts Potter.

I graduated in 1991 with my Bachelors in Nursing. My career path started out initially working as a bedside surgical nurse in a Toronto hospital. I then went into the community as a home care nurse; went to the Community Care Access Centre as a Case Manager and later transferred back to the hospital as a CCAC hospital case manager. From there, I relocated from Toronto to Northwestern Ontario accepting a position working with a First Nation owned and operated organization as an eHealth Nursing Coordinator. I went back to school and graduated with my Masters in Nursing (Generalist Stream) in 2015 and accepted a position as the Director of Nursing within the same First Nation organization. We researched, planned, wrote policies, worked with Health Canada and assisted with the first nursing devolution of one of our First Nation's nursing station's. We currently operate, support, supervise and manage the primary health care team in this First Nation.

What stage of your nursing career are you in?


Which chapter do you belong to?

Sioux Lookout Chapter.

What made you decide to choose nursing as a career path?

As a child I was in a terrible car accident at the age of five; during recuperation, I was in the hospital and in the middle of the night, I woke up crying for my mother. The nurse I felt was not supportive and wouldn't call my mother. I was left feeling alone and isolated. I remember thinking, when I grow up I am going to become a nurse and be supportive. My mother also had a great influence in my life. She always wanted to become a nurse and wasn't able to fulfil her dream due to life challenges.

What made you choose your specialty in nursing?

I chose to work with First Nations nursing because I feel given my background (Inuit), I would like to assist in any way possible to empower First Nations to manage their health care. Working with First Nations in Canada gets me to see first hand the trials and struggles that exist in our own back yard. Issues that are real include emancipation, vulnerable population groups, disparities including social determinants of health and so forth.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

The highlight in my career so far has been my current career as Director of Nursing for a First Nation owned and operated organization. There are successes and challenges that I see daily. The days go by so fast and working in partnerships with other key stakeholders has helped with the success of nursing devolution.

What membership benefit(s) offered by RNAO have you used (e.g., PLP, LAP, uniform discount, etc.)? How did you find them to be beneficial?

I feel that becoming a member of RNAO has been great for my career path. Specially, I enjoy the PLP benefits as we require liability insurance in the area in which I work.

What advice would you offer a new nurse just beginning their career?

Advice for new nurses: follow your dreams, keep learning. Develop a life work balance. Get involved in projects and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Don't coast in your career but keep taking courses, learning new things and expand your knowledge, your practice and those soft personality skills. You have to work with many different personalities, many different health care professionals and developing leadership skills and ways of working with others goes a long way.

Learn more about RNAO and its members.