Tom Ryan, BSN ’14, from the WSU Tri-Cities College of Nursing, accepted a prestigious offer to join the Nurse Residency Program at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. The residency helps newly-hired nurse graduates transition into the role of a professional nurse within specialized areas of care matching their interests and career goals. Just one of six selected from 1,000 applicants vying for placement in the trauma ICU, Tom made sure his application was impeccable. Beginning this past February, he began his dream job in the Level 1 Trauma Center—one of the busiest in the nation.
Tom’s training and life experience leading up to the residency program prepared him for the types of patients he will expect to face at the highly-acclaimed teaching hospital.
Fresh out of high school, Tom cross-trained as a medic in the Marine Corps and was deployed twice. He recalled seeing his friends return, many recovering from serious, life-changing wounds. The training he received in the Marine Corps
combined with the severity of the job made him realize how fragile a life is, and just how quickly, or slowly, a life can be lost.
“The fact that many wounded friends were alive and living amazed me, and seeing their progress at the same time amazed me. I wanted to be a part of the healing process for others,” Tom said.
A second life event–his mother passing away from cervical cancer, further ignited his ambition to become a nurse.
By 2010, Tom was ready to make a career move. A fellow Marine had introduced him to his hometown of Kennewick, Washington. Here Tom discovered the WSU Tri-Cities College of Nursing and decided it was where he would begin the next chapter of his life: nursing school.
Tom’s favorite part of his education was the clinical opportunities provided to him. Time spent in various clinical settings felt like trying out a new career each time, ultimately helping broaden his learning experience. “The hospitals and WSU are supportive of each other. Many new nurses hired in the Tri-Cities are graduates from WSU’s nursing program,” Tom said.
Tom too could have been an employee at one of the hospitals, having received a job offer prior to graduation. But then the call came that changed everything.
“I could have loved working here and I do anticipate coming back later in my career. The opportunity to work at Vanderbilt University Medical Center is life-changing and the right fit for me now,” Tom said.
Now Tom is settled into the nursing residency program—and loving it. He has a nurse mentor who couldn’t be a better fit: the first WSU Tri-Cities College of Nursing alumni who also landed the same residency, Lauren Jones, BSN, RN. Tom has also connected with several grads from the WSU Spokane College of Nursing.
“I’m still very excited to be here and a part of a team who cares for the sickest of the sick in the Southeast. It’s a higher level of care that will definitely be a challenge. There will be lots of uncomfortable times. But that’s what keeps you on your toes and learning.”