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Military vet fulfills purpose to become physician assistant

Jun 14, 2019

Shuan Ring

Shaun Ring '19 may not know how to contain his excitement when he dons his cap and gown to receive his diploma on June 16, but the 38-year-old Nebraska native recognizes he has the education and experience to take his place in the burgeoning health care industry.

"Most people I talk to know about Pacific and understand the reputation of the education provided here," said Ring, one of 44 graduating members of University of the Pacific's inaugural class for the Master of Physician Assistant Studies (PA) program. "The program's faculty and administrators wanted to make sure that the PA program lives up to that expectation. Most of the curriculum was focused on preparing us for our careers after graduation. Even during clinical rotations, I felt that our class was well prepared for that role."

Overall, the graduating class is made up of students from around the country ranging in age from 24 to 42 who have more than twice the national average of health care experience in other PA programs with nearly 6,800 hours compared to 2,450. The faculty and Pacific's reputation played major roles in Ring selecting the PA program.

"After finding out about the new program, I did some research on the faculty," Ring said. "Most of the founding faculty are well known. I also found out that two of the faculty have prior military experience and that the program is military friendly."

Finding a military friendly program was important for Ring, a platoon sergeant for a Sacramento-area Army Reserve unit. He continued his military service while in school and is among four veterans in the program. He joined the Army Reserves shortly before graduating high school in 1999 and completed an associate's degree before going to active duty in 2007. He worked as a laboratory technician in the Army, stationed in Texas, Kansas, South Korea, and now Sacramento. He returned to the Army Reserves in 2016 after he was accepted to Pacific's PA program.

The leadership skills he honed in the Army translated to leadership roles on the Sacramento Campus where the PA program is located. He was voted the class co-president and helped to create the class bylaws, setting up the groundwork for future classes.

Ring spent much of his clinical rotation in Stockton and found that the cultural and socioeconomic diversity of the city enhanced his learning experience.

"The clinical rotation experiences were my favorite time here," Ring said. "Learning and interacting with patients was an awesome experience. I also enjoyed talking with the faculty on a personal and professional level. They are very grounded people, and I would genuinely consider them friends."

Throughout the journey, Ring balanced study, work and family - a wife and three children, 14, 11, and 10. His family has already moved back to their native Nebraska to be closer to extended family and where Ring will begin his career as a physician assistant at a plastic surgery and orthopedics clinic in Lincoln.

"I am 38 years old now and have wanted to be a health care provider for my whole life," Ring said. While the journey to get to this point has been long, finding purpose along the way makes it well worth it for Ring.

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