ON THE MARK: with Ryan Pace, Nursing Education in Southwestern Alberta

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Growing up in Fernie, B.C., Ryan Pace had a lot of interest in science, biology and how the human body works. That interest led to a career in nursing. Ryan spent the first two years of his nursing degree at Lethbridge College, which he describes as phenomenal. He was able to meet some lifelong friends and colleagues plus, with the class sizes being relatively small, all the instructors knew students by name and had a genuine interest in developing successful graduates. Two instructors stood out as being real mentors for Ryan: Deb Bardock and Tracy Oosterbroek. Both had high expectations and were focused on helping everyone learn how to provide the most basic care to patients.

Ryan graduated from the Nursing Education in Southwestern Alberta program, which includes two years at the college and two years at the university, in 2004. Five years later, he went on to earn a Masters of Health Care Administration degree.

His first job after graduating was at the Elk Valley Hospital in Fernie where he dealt with a wide variety of health and social issues with limited resources. The experience in rural healthcare taught him the value of team work and critical thinking.

Ryan later worked in northern California for two years and was a travel nurse in Los Angeles for a year before moving to Las Vegas in 2011. He started as a staff/trauma nurse and quickly moved to a charge nurse.

Today he is the director of the pediatric emergency department at Sunrise Children’s Hospital. To say it’s a busy hospital is an understatement. In 2015, the hospital treated over 50,000 children from Nevada, California, Utah and Arizona. Combined with the adult emergency department, there are days where they see over 500 patients and receive over 130 ambulances. It is not uncommon to admit over 100 patients per day to the hospital, Ryan says.

“Nursing is a privilege,” Ryan says. “You can never be complacent, stop learning or turn your back on a patient in need. You will see thousands of patients throughout your career. While you may remember only a few, the majority of those patients will remember you for the rest of their lives – so your encounters with them are crucial. It’s a rewarding career.”

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Mark Campbell (Communication Arts 1975) shares the stories of fellow Lethbridge College alumni in this regular column. To read more interviews by Mark, visit his blog at greetergrammer1.wordpress.com.

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