40 Years In Nursing Led To A Business In Integrative Health Coaching For Donna Cetroni | #93

July 13, 2023

40 Years In Nursing Led To A Business In Integrative Health Coaching For Donna Cetroni | #93 Who says retirement is for everyone? Meet Donna Cetroni- RN, BSN, MA, AHN-BC, NBC-HWC, who has many letters behind her name after over 40 years in nursing and now as a integrative health nurse coach. Donna joins Shannon […]

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40 Years In Nursing Led To A Business In Integrative Health Coaching For Donna Cetroni | #93

Who says retirement is for everyone? Meet Donna Cetroni- RN, BSN, MA, AHN-BC, NBC-HWC, who has many letters behind her name after over 40 years in nursing and now as a integrative health nurse coach. Donna joins Shannon on this Episode #93 of the Second Act Success Career Podcast to talk about her transition from starting as an emergency room nurse and evolving her career in healthcare and service in many many different ways. Donna decided to open her own integrative health coaching practice called The Healing Way instead of retiring, and she is feeling more fulfilled than ever with her work.  Please listen in on this moving conversation with Donna Cetroni as she shares her second act success story.

Donna Cetroni

Donna Cetroni, Founder of The Healing Way


Music provided by Karen Drucker – https://www.karendrucker.com/

Connect with Donna Cetroni:
LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/donna-cetroni-a038171a/
Twitter – donna_cetroni
Instagram – @thehealingway_donnacetroni
Facebook – @donnaritacetroni








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Second Act Success Career Podcast
Season 1 - ​​40 Years In Nursing Led To A Business In Integrative Health Coaching
Episode - #93
Host: Shannon Russell
Guest: Donna Centroni
Transcription (*created by Descript and may not be perfectly accurate)

[00:00:00] Shannon: Do you need some clarity on what it is you are meant to be doing? Then don't miss my Career Clarity Masterclass. It's happening on Tuesday, July 18th at 12:00 PM Eastern time, 9:00 AM Pacific Sign up for free at www.secondactsuccess.co/masterclass. During this time together, I will walk you through my four steps to career clarity.

I will give you actionable steps to implement right away. Plus you'll get access to the, My Success Journal just for joining. Go to www.secondactsuccess.co/masterclass to register. I'll see you there.


[00:01:09] Shannon: Welcome back to the podcast. My friend. I am your host career transition, coach Shannon Russell.

Today we will be talking about continuing the work you love in a whole new way. Even during retirement, join me for a moving conversation with Donna Cetroni.

An emergency room nurse who knew that she could help patients through more than just medicine. Donna went on to get two master's degrees and many certifications. And once she retired, she opened up her own health and wellness practice called The Healing Way. She has so much wisdom to share. So let's dive in and meet my friend. Donna Cetroni.

[00:01:48] Shannon: Donna, welcome to Second Act Success I'm so happy to have you here to share your story.

[00:01:53] Donna: Thank you so much for inviting me. I do have a story. It's interesting one.

[00:01:57] Shannon: Well, 40 years in nursing, right? Did you, [00:02:00] always know you wanted to be a nurse from a young


[00:02:02] Donna: Well, it's very interesting because one of my best friends from Staten Island that I grew up with said that I always said it. I, I wanted to be a nun. And that kind of made me laugh because I have a lot of non-friends and I am really motivated by things that move me through spirit.

So I guess I wasn't supposed to be that kind of a nun in a

black habit,

[00:02:26] Shannon: Right. So you ended up getting into nursing and what were your first steps in the nursing industry?

[00:02:33] Donna: Well my mother worked for the College of Staten Island and she said, I could get you in the nursing program. And I'm like, really? I don't know if I wanna be a nurse. She goes, well, that are computers.

And I started nursing school and I had an affinity for psychology. So Every opportunity that I got to take an elective, it was in some kind of psychology, child psychology, abnormal psychology you know, food and [00:03:00] psychology. And so I think that that started my trajectory in knowing that there was more in nursing than the physical body, than the medicine and the surgery, and it made me aware that nurses were not just Dr. Helpers. And I think that some physicians and some administrators thought that I think that things have changed as time has gone on and nursing has taken a stand as a profession on its own, separate from. Physicians and we need each other.

That's why I practice integrative and functional medicine. If I break an ankle, I want an orthopedic surgeon and I want a good one. And do I want one that has the skill to be able to acknowledge the whole person? Yes, because that will help me heal faster. But I also want other opportunities that will help me heal.

[00:04:00] And so that's what brought me to understanding that the surgery and the medicine wasn't enough and I wanted to learn


[00:04:09] Shannon: And you were telling me off camera that you really were able to fulfill your education while working in nursing. And really, there are so many letters behind your name, Donna, I you have masters in, in several different things.

[00:04:24] Donna: So I was an emergency department nurse and what I saw was a lot of women coming to the emergency department with symptoms that were the same. So it was like I did my own analytic or like research or anecdotal research project, seeing that they were coming in for depression and problems with digestion.

And chest pain and many other symptoms that would reveal that there was nothing wrong physically. And so what would happen is they would be given an antidepressant and an anxiolytic anx anxiety [00:05:00] medication. And sent away. And then they would come back in like three months with the same symptoms and I think this is not right.

So at that point I went for a certification in women's health so I could understand a little more from a nursing perspective, the whole person. And I worked from the emergency department, I did work in women's health. In a clinic, an outpatient clinic. And then I also went back to the hospital and worked in case management and realized that the most important thing women need is support.

Many times they're expected to, you know, bring home the bacon and. You know, fry it up in the

pan and take care of the kids and the emergency phone calls and whatever else comes with being a woman, especially a woman who has children. And then I realized that I probably didn't know enough. So I went back for a master's in holistic health studies [00:06:00] and that brought me to a place where I understood more about the.

Traditional ancestral background to our medicine and I mean all of our medicine really came from plantology, right? Where we used plants for understanding how the effect on the human body and then kind of, you know, pharmaceuticals took over and made a synthetic version of that. So I wanted to learn more about what we could do, cuz I figured if we survived as a species, Then there's something to that because there was no western medicine, there was no big pharma,

and we're still here. And I also, because then I went into patient safety and quality, realized that I. Only in 250 years we've had to have a body of knowledge to prevent people from getting hurt from the western medicine [00:07:00] world. And essentially, I don't know what the statistics look like right now, but a couple of years ago, this.

Statistics look like one in four get hurt going to the doctors and one in two going to the hospital. Now hurt doesn't mean dead hurt means you could be given the wrong medication. Maybe the timing of the medication was not appropriate. And those statistics are astounding

to me

[00:07:27] Shannon: This just happened to my mom,

The past couple of weeks. Wrong medicine and a problem with her surgery.

[00:07:33] Donna: Yeah, sometimes it's I importance to know when to integrate. I'll give you an example. My husband who is very healthy, had a little bit of swelling in his ankles last year, and I'm like, what is that from? What did you eat yesterday? Like, I always go back to food and he's like nothing. I, it's my socks and I kind of

giggled. So I pressed his ankles and he had like two plus pitting edema, which is [00:08:00] significant. And the murmur that he had was, that was congenital. Sounded a little louder even just to my ear.

So he went to the doctor the next day. Ended up, long story short, having a ascending aortic aneurysm that would have ruptured this year. And he had the best of care. So the curing came from the surgery. The healing came from everything else that he did, which was a prepare for surgery program reiki before, during, and after surgery.

All kinds of meditations and mantras that he ascribed to. He's an more of an accountant brain, but, you know, he was really scared. So he listened to everything I said about how to heal, and he's doing very, very

well. And he would've died if he didn't have that surgery. So it's important not to think that there's an alternative medicine.

There really isn't. It is integrative and it's functional. It's just we have to be thoughtful because for every action there's a [00:09:00] reaction. So for every pill that you're taking, there's something else that

[00:09:03] Shannon: Mm-hmm. Well, good thing. You had a masters in holistic health. I can see it's come in handy even in your own family. So what happened after getting this degree?

[00:09:14] Donna: I finished that degree holistic health studies and then I went to the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in Manhattan when it was actually live, when Deepak chops and the, and the Mark Hymans were in their jeans and Andrew Wiles and off camera, so that they were able to really.

Tell us what was the real deal and people came from all over the world. We went every month for three days for nine months. And, then I went into practice. A friend, of mine from Manhattan, I said to him, you know, a patient told me I had a very healing way about me.

And he goes, that's the name of your practice. I'm like, what practice? He's like, the practice you're gonna have, what are you doing all this work

for? I really swear that's what

[00:09:55] Shannon: Wow.

[00:09:56] Donna: It was amazing. I rented space and then people started [00:10:00] coming. And then, things happen. My parents got older. I really couldn't support that anymore. I was in too many places. So I closed the practice for a little bit,

[00:10:10] Shannon: All right, so you close the practice, but luckily you were still working as a registered nurse. So what came next?

[00:10:17] Donna: That's when I went for the second master's in counseling psychology at Monmouth University because I figured I needed to know more about the

psyche and that program happens to have a Tract of spirituality. It was fit for me and was great because all of my electives were in spirituality. then I, was planning to retire from the hospital and my husband says, you need to reopen the practice. I'm like, well, what do you know?

Like thinking to myself.

[00:10:47] Shannon: I

am ready to retire.

[00:10:49] Donna: I hate that. So again, he said, you didn't do all this work for no reason. So it was amazing the space that I had before. We talked to our friend who's the chiropractor [00:11:00] who owns the building. He said, it's available, come back.

And then I opened up and then I retired. So I am in this glorious space. One room is for conversation and coaching and more of a integrative like counseling. And the other room, which is attached is kind of like the energy medicine room where I, I'm a reiki master as well.

And I have a knowledge of aromatherapy and reflexology and all those opportunities So many times people will come in and I'll say, what keeps you up at night? What's the first thing that you think about before you go to bed? And then they'll like, da, da, da, da, da, right?

And sometimes tears and sometimes anger. And then I'll usually get about 30 minutes. I usually ask, what's the one thing that you could do this week that will help?

Improve your overall wellbeing. And then they'll tell me that thing, and then I'll give them literally a smart goal. You know, I'll say, okay, when are you doing this? And, and I'll hold them to that. and [00:12:00] then I go, so do you wanna go on the table? And really, it's so funny, once people get used to this, they literally stop and jump on the table, and leave smiling and balanced.

And I just feel like it's such a bless. It's almost, it's like a miracle to me. I would not have been able to imagine this when I was working in the ER thinking this is not right,

[00:12:22] Shannon: you followed your instincts. You followed your instincts, and in wanting to learn more and learn what was it that wasn't right about that, and that led you to all these other masters and studies and time, investments and learning.

[00:12:35] Donna: Gandhi says spirituality without having the knowledge. You have to have the study. And to be perfectly honest there are some holistic practitioners others feel are airy. Very,

and I'm a scientist first, so all my practice comes from being able to research what works better. And then the rest of my practice comes from my intuition. And ask the right [00:13:00] questions, you can delve deep into, the fact that there needs more work to be done. like for yourself if you are in a practice or you're helping coach other people, you need to do the thing.

You need to be able to have the experience. You're not gonna be able to help other mothers with businesses if you don't really know. You can't study it though, on the other hand, Having the experience and the study makes you very powerful because you then know things about motivational interviewing, you'll know things about appreciative inquiry that's out there.

Now, that that wasn't out there when I went to nursing school.

[00:13:40] Shannon: I bet. Oh, I couldn't agree more. I love that you combined your experience and your education. As a nurse in holistic medicine, Reiki, psychology counseling, and then you created your health and wellness practice, which is called the healing way. I love that it serves the whole person.

[00:13:58] Donna: I actually took the [00:14:00] national board for health and wellness coaches. And I did that because it was a new designation through the Board of Medical Examiners,

and I figured if I took that exam, I would feel like I had the best preparation to be a health and wellness coach. And I have to say, I've taken a lot of exams in my life. That exam took me four and a half hours, the full-time. I it was not easy and not any nurse. Or any person could just take that exam without having the preparation.

So I was very happy. I guess the point is that do the work or else you're not gonna be able to

help people.

[00:14:39] Shannon: And you are a lifelong learner. It's clear as day, and I feel like it's true. I'm a coach, and I'm constantly attending webinars and taking courses and, and educating myself because I'm a lifelong learner as well. And so I think you're right.

It makes you that much better at what you do and what you love when you are willing to study it continually.

[00:14:59] Donna: Well, things [00:15:00] change. My initial entry into nursing was great because I kind of did cognitive therapy through taking all these, you know, psychological courses and, and then the counseling psychology even brought me further because listen, you're not getting outta that program and being mentally ill.

Like I have to say, there are other opportunities where you can come out with a degree help other people. And the emotional, mental part is not addressed. But they tell you right at the beginning of the coursework that if you don't unravel the stuff that comes or the trauma that comes from your past, cuz we all have it somewhere, right?

If it's not with us, it's with our family or something we've seen or something we've experienced. If you don't unravel that, you're gonna bring that to the table. And when you bring it to the table, you can't be helpful to other people.

[00:15:54] Shannon: And you were doing all this education, working as a nurse, finding yourself throughout your path and your [00:16:00] career journey while being a mom and a wife. And there's a lot of times where you have to say, no, sorry, I can't because I'm with the kids, or I have to study.

I can't imagine it was a quite a balance for you over the years.

[00:16:12] Donna: I think that people got used to me. On breaks at work when everybody was I don't know, talking, many times about other people. I would go off into a corner and I would study. I'd go, oh, I have an exam tomorrow, or I have a paper to write. My son Jonathan, is My third child is affected with Downes syndrome.

And I remember. Crying to my mother. I can't finish school now because Jonathan's born. And she was like, why? You're not mentally challenged. I mean, I thought I could laugh now that she's, bless her soul, she's not here anymore. But it was like probably most profound thing my mother ever said to me, like, why can't you just do it one class at a time?

And she actually said this, do one class at a time. You're gonna be 50 anyway,

so you might as well be 50 with a degree. [00:17:00] And it was. Quite amazing. At 50, I graduated with my first master's at 60. I graduated with my second doing one or two courses at a time it wasn't about getting the degree, it was about getting the transformational learning that happened during that time and meeting these professors that were very significantly more evolved than I was at the

time. Then having these mentors become friends of mine. So, you know, I kind of went in as little Donna Rita, and I came out like, wow, I could do this. I, I have the regalia

to prove

[00:17:39] Shannon: you do. But it was more

about what you learned through that process, how you evolved as a person and a mother and a wife and a nurse and now you get to take that at your age now and work with clients in a completely different way. And how incredible is it that your mom had that foresight years ago?

[00:17:57] Donna: Yeah, it was, and I, you know, I have a [00:18:00] husband who is always very supportive Tom is more of a homebody and he loves to fold clothes and make dinner and he's a very smart man, so I think he's probably more evolved than I am from other lifetimes. He didn't have to do all this work, but even today, he said to Jonathan, mommy needs quiet, so you need to leave her alone for an hour.

And I thought, wow. How supportive that is. Because, I don't think every other man. Would have had the confidence to allow me to do what I needed to do in life because they might been, feeling less than, or in competition with.

Like collaboration, rocks, competition never is good because you myself, Others they'll always be somebody better, richer, kinder, smarter, prettier. And being imperfectly perfect works well.

I also [00:19:00] think it helps once you kind of let go of all that, it feels like You are kind of in line with the universe things start to open up.

You, you so

[00:19:11] Shannon: Right, and things were opening up for you, and now you're in such a great place.

[00:19:44] Shannon: Tell us about your practice now. What kind of clients do you attract and what kind of support are they looking for

from you?

[00:19:52] Donna: many times I get people who are in their twenties who see their parents aren't healthy

[00:20:00] and aren't sure about what to do with that. other times I get people who are Looking for something of the last resort. Like you've been to every doctor, you've been to a psychiatrist, you've done all of the work, you've taken medicine, and you still don't feel balanced.

I would say my practice goes from I have a 20 year old and then I have a 80 year old Looking for someone to have a conversation with that would really listen and be perfectly present and not looking. I never look at my time. I tell people I will give you a full hour though you're never leaving here crying or angry.

And my motivation isn't making money. My motivation is to do what I do best and, have a purpose in helping people have a life. And it seems to work out.

I, say I have a hundred percent recovery rate, like you

can't ruin it for me

[00:20:55] Shannon: Yeah, exactly.

[00:20:56] Donna: and they start laughing, I go, I know it sounds quite narcissistic [00:21:00] because this really isn't about me. It's about you. But I'm 100% invested in

your life and when you're here with me that is the only thing that's on my mind,

so it just feels. Almost surreal for me that, I am in the place that I'm supposed to be and it took a very long time to get here, but I think that that's the way life is.


[00:21:23] Shannon: I always like to find that thread that kind of weaves between your different acts and I had that written down that being a learner slash educator is yours.

[00:21:32] Donna: Well, it's so funny. I have some physicians in my office and they go, you need to hang your degrees and you need to hang, hang your certifications. And I'm like, well, nurses are really brought up to, and women to kind of hide their gifts. Right. And what I say at this point I've learned a lot is, I I even say this to my clients, like, tell me a brag today.

Like, what did you do this week that you feel really good about? And they're like, I'm not supposed to brag. I'm never supposed to brag. And I'm like, no, no, let's turn that around. What did you [00:22:00] do that you really feel happy about this week.

So I did hang them and I did have someone come into my office one time and say, wow, you have a lot of, degrees and certifications hung up. And I was like, yes, I do.

[00:22:12] Shannon: Nope.

[00:22:13] Donna: Yes. I did the work and it's, it's not the three day course It's the, you know, it's the nine month I had to take a test exam, that kind of thing.

And I think that, whether it's, education some other kind of opportunity to learn, We must continue to learn even after we retire from, your first act especially for someone like myself who's gonna be 69 this year, I'm not over, like when I'm gonna be used up by the time it's over.

[00:22:47] Shannon: I'm retired and I'm starting it back up again?

[00:22:49] Donna: You have to do the work, because success equals preparation and opportunity and this opportunity

arose and my husband is the

one who pushed me,

so I'm

forever grateful

[00:23:00] I'll have, friends who say, well, you're not really retired. I go, No, I am retired. I'm

[00:23:04] Shannon: Your

[00:23:04] Donna: from the man. I do whatever I want to do in my practice. Nobody can tell me what to do. In the practice though, I do have a coach and I do have a therapist I can talk to if I need to. So I have five people in my life that are.

My guides, you know, My physical guides. I have my spirit guides, but I also have My physical guides. If I need some advice, I, I

know who to go

[00:23:33] Shannon: That's fantastic. You really are living the kind of retirement that you're meant to be. You're taking all of your experience, your skills, your education from the years, and you're building this business away from the man, a business that you have worked so hard for and that you love. And what a wonderful way to spend retirement, helping others.

If someone is listening and they wanna connect with you, what's the best way to connect with you?

[00:23:57] Donna: my phone number is (732) [00:24:00] 773-5668 and I'm on Instagram @thehealingway_donnacetroni. And I'm on Facebook the Healing Way with Donna Cetroni.

[00:24:15] Shannon: Name one thing that these different chapters in your life have taught you.

[00:24:19] Donna: I think the most important thing is to be who you are meant to be. Find your voice, and quiet that inner critic. My inner critic's name is Josie. I invite Josie out to Starbucks and tell her to read People Magazine cuz I have important work to do because we all have an inner critic. You're not good enough, you're not deserving, you're not lovable.

Like, who do you think you are? And I, truly believe that voice has to be quieted you can't fight it. You just have to invite it out, right? And stand up for you what you believe is true. be open and flexible enough to hear what others have to say because you may change your mind, and that's okay to change [00:25:00] your mind

[00:25:00] Shannon: would you recommend taking a leap into a big life change to your best friend?

[00:25:04] Donna: That is an absolute yes. Yes, yes. There is a book called Do the Work You Love and the Money Will Follow discovering Your Right Livelihood that I gave to my children when they were growing up because if you don't love your work then it's work And people will say to me in retirement, well, you're still working.

I go, no, I'm really not. I like, and I'll say that to my clients. I go, they think I'm working here. And we're like giggling and laughing

like, this is not work.


This is my passion project.

[00:25:35] Shannon: So what is one piece of advice that you would give to someone who's about to start their second act?

[00:25:40] Donna: Well, I think the most important thing is investing in your own growth. Mind, emotional, physical, and spiritual. All of those domains you can't leave out one. Because we literally are spiritual beings having a human experience, whether you believe it or not. And optimize your overall wellbeing, which will lead you [00:26:00] to, your right path.

[00:26:01] Shannon: So what does the next act look like for you?

[00:26:04] Donna: Well, it really brings me great joy to see people satisfied in their work and in their personal lives. So I'll continue to expand my territory by trusting the process and having faith that really God will lead the way. I'm not really sure. I have people who will say to me, well, you need to write a book.

You need to go on the Speaker's Bureau. You need to do this, you need to do that. And yeah, I have lectured in front of a thousand people before. at the moment, it was, it was fun, it was great. It enlivening and uplifting and I don't know that that's how I wanna spend my time.

I really loved spending my time one-on-one, and I couldn't do both. So I decided this year actually that I will continue with my lifelong learning. And I will continue to see people as they show up, And continue to be the healthiest [00:27:00] person that I can with keeping my family in mind, especially with what Tom went through last year.

I look at him sometimes and I think, you know, that was a really big wake up call. We never know what's gonna happen and I don't wanna have any regrets. The only regret I want to have is

that I have no regrets.

[00:27:18] Shannon: Oh, that's beautiful. Donna, thank you so much. Did you want to do the song that we had talked about

[00:27:24] Donna: well, a friend

of mine, her name is Karen Drucker. She was a, singer songwriter, grew up in the Hollywood area. hung out with Carol Burnett and, Just was able to take, that experiences and make songs that help people heal.

This song could be sort of a meditation, like, I would encourage you to do is put your feet flat on the floor. Maybe put your hand over your heart. some nice deep breaths and listen to what's called "Something More". you wouldn't be on this podcast with Shannon if you didn't think that there was [00:28:00] something

more. So here we go.

There's been a storm inside me.

I can't see. I'm stuck. What I'm, I feel


of something.[00:29:00]

Feels like my safety have fall down. I wish I

this feeling in muscle when I get there, I'll do.

I feel of something I've never done before. Feel

what am for what? Am for what am I.[00:30:00]

Right now, I dunno where trust and truth, my heart will the

so I do declare I will take that. Step in,

[00:30:27] Shannon: So pretty What beautiful song. What a great song for meditation, like you said. Wow.

[00:30:34] Donna: you can go to her website and find, many wonderful, songs.

[00:30:38] Shannon: That's

So special. I'm gonna link to that in our show notes as well, so everyone can get that. And just thank you for sharing your story, Donna. This has been so lovely to get to hear your whole evolution and everything that you've gone through to get to where you are now.

I'm, I'm so proud to know you.

[00:30:53] Donna: Thank you and you as well.

[00:30:56] Shannon: Thank you, Donna, for sharing your story with us.[00:31:00] It's incredible to see you. This woman who is so decorated with degrees retiring, and then still wanting to work. And be of service of others by giving back and really helping people find peace and health through your health and wellness practice. So fantastic work. I want to urge you all to connect with Donna over on Instagram, she is @thehealingway_donnacetroni

I also want to think Karen Drucker for allowing Donna and I to play her beautiful uplifting song.

Something more here on the podcast. So take a listen to more of her music over at karendrucker.com. And thank you. My listener. Thank you so much for spending just a little bit of your day with me today, and I wish you the most wonderful day ahead. Keep going on whatever path you're working towards. And I hope to have you back here with me for a new episode of the Second Act Success Career Podcast. Next time. [00:32:00] Thanks so much.


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