Okanogan County Nursing Student Wants To Serve His Community
By Doug Nadvornick
WSU nursing student Tony Moore – an Omak native -- remembers the day when the seed was planted for him to pursue nursing as a career.
“I was at my high school soccer game and my grandma was watching,” Moore remembered. “I had just scored a goal and I was cheering. Everyone else was cheering too and then I hear this yelling and I thought, ‘oh yeah, they’re cheering for me.’”
But as it turns out, Moore’s grandmother, who was there watching the game, was having a seizure and the crowd was trying to get his attention.
“Luckily, one of my teammates, his mom was actually a nurse. She did everything right then and there and knew what was going on,” said Moore. “She said, ‘Hey, everything’s going to be ok. We’re going to take care of her and it’ll be all right.’”
That experience – and the nurse’s composure – left a mental impression on Moore. Still, the nursing bug didn’t really hit him until a few years later. Coming out of high school, he opted for a profession where he could help people.
“But when I thought nurse, I thought that’s a female role. And so I decided to do physical therapy,” he said.
So Moore enrolled in the physical therapy program at Eastern Washington University. Then, during his fourth year of college, “the thought of what happened with my grandma stuck in my head and I thought that maybe I should do this (nursing) instead.”
He applied to – and was accepted by – the WSU College of Nursing. There, Robbie Paul took Moore under his wing. Paul is the college’s director for Native American recruitment and retention.
“She’s a great mentor. She’s basically like another grandma,” Moore said.
Getting off the reservation
For Tony Moore, a career in nursing has some contradictions. It’s about needing to leave his home on the Colville Indian Reservation and then come back.
“Growing up on the reservation is tough,” he said. “I grew up when we had two (lumber) mills and that was the goal in life. You graduate high school, you go work in the mill. But those closed down, so there were no jobs there. If you didn’t do well in high school, you’re stuck there. That’s the way it is with a few of my family members.”
But Moore did well and he left for college. He’s on track for his nursing degree – a joint diploma issued by WSU and EWU -- and a career working in hospitals.
“Ideally, I’d like to do E.R. (emergency) and I.C.U. (intensive care) work,” he said. “I like the critical thinking. You have to act right then and there with someone who is going through these sudden changes. And you can make a huge impact.”
Eventually, he’d like to make that impact back home on the Colville Indian Reservation.
“In my culture, the elders, the community, give to us,” Moore said. “And it’s our responsibility to give that back to the community. I would love to give them back my knowledge and help them out however I can.”