BSN student pulls double duty with UAB ROTC

By Pareasa Rahimi

With 4 a.m. wake up calls, Ryan Pruitt starts his days a little earlier than most. As a fourth-semester Bachelor of Science in Nursing student and a cadet in UAB’s Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, he balances a full schedule of classes, clinicals and training.

“One of the big things that ROTC has made me a pro at is waking up early,” Pruitt said. “At the end of the day, it’s about getting the job done. You have to have a present mind and focus your attention on it.”

That discipline and drive brought Pruitt to the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing. He first became interested in the nursing profession after receiving encouragement from a health care class teacher at his high school in Kennesaw, Georgia, and after shadowing students at a local nursing school.

“I realized I could see myself in the role caring for patients and getting to know them,” Pruitt said. “I love serving people and that is what has been instilled in me by my parents and through my faith. At the core, a nurse is willing to do whatever he or she can for patients and to serve others.”

The top-ranked BSN program initially drew Pruitt to UAB, as well as the flexibility for students to be involved in other activities, like ROTC. Pruitt also is involved in the Black Undergraduate Medical Association and works at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Alabama. Pruitt credits his cohort and UAB support for encouraging him along the way.

“The faculty and my cadre at my battalion are super helpful,” Pruitt said. “You really find your second family or family away from family in nursing school.”

After graduating in the spring, Pruitt will commission into the United States Army Nurse Corps, where his training from the UABSON and the ROTC will come together.

“That’s big in the army world—completing the mission. As a nurse, the mission is taking care of the patient,” Pruitt said. “When you’re a nurse, you must have attention to detail because you have somebody’s life in your hands. In ROTC, you’re being trained to be a second lieutenant in the Army and you’re going to have the lives of the sons and daughters of America in your hands.”

Pruitt plans to return to school to earn a master’s degree in nursing education and one day, hopes to teach.

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