Hi! My name is Ryann Allen and I grew up in beautiful Erie, Pennsylvania. After graduating from Harbor Creek High School, I attended Gannon University and received a Bachelor of Science in Biology in 2012. I began medical school at the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.
After long years of intense studies and hard work, I can finally say that I am a doctor! I graduated from LECOM in 2016 with two graduate degrees: Masters in Health Services Administration and Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. I was hired by Saint Vincent Hospital to continue my journey as a physician, now specializing in Emergency Medicine.
What first drew you to Gannon?
As a local Erie-ite, I was familiar with the University when the time came for me to start applying for college. I was able to get early exposure to the institution by attending Gannon’s ‘Regional Summer School of Excellence’, a 2-week advanced science program held during the summer for select high school students. Along with enjoying that program, Gannon offered excellent financial aid and scholarship options, which I knew would significantly impact my life after graduation.
Why were you interested in pursuing biology in college?
I knew I wanted to attend medical school after graduation, so I wanted to set myself up for success in my post-graduate endeavors with a science major. Gannon also has the option of using a “Pre-Med” track while getting a Biology degree, which ensures a student will complete all classes required to apply to medical schools around the nation. Plus, science is awesome.
What were some memorable experiences at GU?
I had so many incredible experiences during my years at Gannon, both in and out of the classroom. I was fortunate enough to be a laboratory assistant for Limnology (study of freshwater lakes) taught by Dr. Stanley Zagorski. Gannon is an amazing place to learn about Limnology, as it is located on the shores of the beautiful freshwater Lake Erie and has its own aquatic vessel, the “Environaut,” equipped with specialized tools for water sampling. I loved cruising around the bay with other students and learning about the lake.
At Gannon, I also had the life-changing opportunity to travel to Edinburgh, Scotland with a theater troupe to attend and perform in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the largest arts festival in the world. There are no words to describe how incredible it was. In addition to performing myself, I saw dozens of other unique performances, toured historic castles, and climbed to the top of an inactive volcano.
Even though I was a science major, Gannon gave me the chance to explore all of my passions, including my love for the arts.
How cool is that?
When did you decide you would pursue a career in medicine?
Gannon actually played a huge role in my decision to pursue medicine as my career. I had the opportunity during the Regional Summer School of Excellence to visit Gannon’s cadaver lab. At that time, I was a sophomore in high school and was unsure what I wanted to pursue after graduation. I vividly remember when it finally clicked: I was exploring the lab and I held a human brain in my hands.
I was suddenly filled with an overwhelming sense of wonder and curiosity surrounding the human body. I called my dad right afterwards and told him, “the human body is incredible. I want to be a doctor.”
How is your experience going so far?
It’s like a dream come true. After receiving my degree from Gannon, I began medical school at the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine. After four long years of intense studies and hard work, I can finally say that I am a doctor! I graduated from LECOM in 2016 with two graduate degrees: Masters in Health Services Administration and Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. I was hired by Saint Vincent Hospital to continue my journey as a physician, specializing in Emergency Medicine. I’m nearly halfway through my residency now, and I’ve had so many amazing opportunities already, and not just inside the hospital! I’ve travelled to several national emergency medicine conferences to learn from the best in the field and this Fall I’ll be heading to Guatemala on a medical mission trip to care for the underserved in that country. The experience getting here has not been easy, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’m in a profession that I love. I get to go to work every day and learn, teach, and help the community that I grew up in.
What’s been your greatest accomplishment in the field so far and what are you looking forward to accomplishing?
I don’t know that I have any one “great” accomplishment so far. It’s not like a TV show where the savvy doc solves the case and saves the dying patient every shift. I think the greatness of my job comes from all of the little things I get to do for others; things like telling an anxious mom their little one is going to be just fine or giving a patient the correct antibiotic for their infection or putting a splint on a broken arm.
And then sometimes in the Emergency Department, you experience some of the most intense, life changing moments in a person’s life, which is a humbling and privileged position to be in. I’m looking forward to continuing to learn about the immense spectrum of disease and how to treat it.
Any final thoughts?
The field of medicine is incredible. It’s a profession in which you never stop learning. Emergency medicine in particular is fast-paced, intense, and unexpected. It’s everything that I was hoping it would be, and I am so grateful that Gannon put me in a position to be living my dream. Pursuing a career in medicine is not an easy road, but I promise that if it’s what you are passionate about, it is worth every minute of coffee induced study marathons, weekends on call, and too many exams to count. It’s a long climb, but when you get to the top, the view is incredible.