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Ryan De Leon

Orthopaedic Surgery, St. Luke’s Hospital

About Me

I was raised in Moses Lake, WA since kindergarten. I grew up wanting to be James Bond. By the time I hit high school, this became unrealistic. Instead, I grew up assuming I was going to work on farms my whole life. I was given a job at age 12 and continued holding a full-time job until medical school. Part of my love for playing sports came from them providing me excuses not to work after school. I went to college at BYU-Idaho and there decided farming was not for me. So, I decided to enter the medical field as I began pursuing dentistry. After a few semesters, I found out what a CRNA was and figured they possessed a very desirable life and quickly switched my major to nursing. After moving back to Washington and getting my nursing degree from Columbia Basin College, I took a new graduate position at Kadlec Regional Medical Center’s Emergency Department, where I was one of two chosen applicants. I worked there for three years, on the night shift, until entering medical school.

My medical school journey

My journey to medical school has been non-traditional. After six months of nursing school, I had some experiences that led me to think I needed to become a physician. Ineffective at ignoring these thoughts, the day before I took my nursing boards, I visited a somewhat local medical school to see what I needed to do to enroll. After realizing that it would take two more years to get my bachelor’s degree in Nursing, and finish my premedical classes, I decided there was no chance I could do it while working full time at night. However, the impressions kept occupying my thoughts. I knew I could not afford to quit my job; I made an unreasonable deal with myself. Since I had never received a 4.0, I told myself If I get straight A’s in every premed class required over the next two years, I will register for the MCAT. Anything less than a 4.0, I would not do it. After working full-time at night and going to class during the day, I graduated WSU Tri-Cities with a 4.0, took the MCAT, and was accepted to almost every school I interviewed at, including the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine.

Serving rural & underserved

My journey to medicine aligns with the College of Medicine’s mission in a number of ways. The most important way deals with the individuals who I have chosen to serve over my life. Since a young age I have rubbed shoulders with the downtrodden. I remember working alongside of immigrant field workers in the fields. As the only Caucasian (half) employee out there, they would try to teach me Spanish while helping me remember how to make homemade tortillas. I chose to maintain a close relationship with the Hispanic culture by volunteering at Grace Clinic, a free clinic for those who have no insurance. As a nurse, I was able to educate individuals of the Hispanic population about health and wellness. I was able to complete a full circle and come back to Grace Clinic as the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine’s first medical student to assist there for a rural rotation.

Hopes & Aspirations

Matching into Orthopaedics was an unlikely feat for someone in my position. On paper, I did not have many of the requirements needed to compete for such a competitive field. However, I will utilize my gratitude to come back to rural Washington so I may serve those who rubbed shoulders with me as a young boy.

I hope to be a mentor to those who feel hopeless in their future while providing compassionate orthopaedic care for my community,” says De Leon.