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A fulfilling career

Military spouse made her career a reality

Dr. Kristan Ryan posing with her husband, Austin, and their son, Landen. Courtesy photo

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As a military spouse, it's well known that relocation is in your future -- frequently and at any given moment. This can make it difficult to maintain a career, set professional roots, or to attend school. None of these obstacles, however, stood in the way of Kristan Ryan. The military spouse of 11 years recently graduated with her veterinarian degree, and has been practicing in the field for just over four months.

For her, however, relocation wasn't a "when" or "where," it was "why now?" Her husband, now a platoon sergeant in the 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, PCSd the day she was accepted to veterinary school near Fort Bragg. As a family, they decided she would stay put with their son in order to attend school, while her husband, Austin, reported to Fort Jackson.

Throughout her medical school tenure, Austin would deploy, return, and then get PCSd again, this time to the other side of the country at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Ryan said going to school was hard, in fact, she almost called it quits early on.

"I wasn't sure I was going to make it to my second semester," she said. But after an invite to a prayer breakfast with the Christian Veterinary Fellowship, her "whole world changed" for the better.

Vet School as a Geo-Bachelorette

Away from her husband and taking care of her son, Landen, who was 3 at the time, she stuck it out. She began going to church, leaned on others from CVF, and even helped with various mission trips, including one that took her to Alaska.

Ryan added that without her support system, including her parents and neighbors who helped with Landen and their pets, her career wouldn't have been possible.

"That was crucial; I couldn't have done it without them."

Especially Austin, "My husband has always supported me in everything I do. Emotionally, it was hard."

Ryan obtained her bachelor's degree years earlier, and took some time off to be with her husband and work in her field of choice, originally human medicine. However, after a bad experience working with medical insurance, she had shied away from the idea of becoming an MD.

Then, when asked to help some friends who had an injured horse, she assisted the vet and became hooked. She said she enjoyed the process, helping the animal, and all while still working in the medical field. Soon, Ryan began shadowing the vet, and then started working in her clinic. It was then that she decided she wanted to join veterinary medicine as a career, wherein she added a few undergrad requirements and tacked on hundreds of pre-requisite work-field hours.

Now, after all the distance from her husband, and years of study, she's practicing and working with animals on a daily basis at Yelm Veterinary Hospital. Helping others like she always wanted, and knowing she took a hard and long path to reach her goal.

"I've always been very driven," she says of the medical school process. "Once I set my mind that there's something I want to do, heaven help anyone who tells me I can't."

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