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Tonya MacDonald ('02)

Nursing Alumni Spotlight

Tonya MacDonald has written her life story about nursing, a thorough description of her early passion for nursing and the road she traveled to reach her goals. Below we have a condensed version of her story, but encourage you to read the full version: Tonya MacDonald & Nursing


Through sheer determination, Tonya MacDonald not only hurdled obstacles to achieve her dream of becoming a nurse, but has experienced many facets of nursing in her still young career. Starting out in the United States Air Force, MacDonald found not only the funding, but the training that laid down the ground work for a nursing career. While in the military as a journeyman medic, she took one class a semester until she was able to apply to the University of Wyoming nursing program. Her second enlistment in the Air Force ended two weeks before starting the nursing program as a junior. "I was 29 years old when I stepped on to the campus of the University of Wyoming for the first time as a student. My fierce ambition pushed me forward all these years, but it was a surreal moment - one I will never forget."

Upon graduation from the BSN program at UW, her first nursing job right out of college was in California in correctional or forensic nursing, or as she states it, "a jail nurse or Registered Nurse Sheriff" - and she loved it. After five years in that career, she began working on her master's in nursing and at the same time accepted a job as an ER/Trauma nurse in the 70-bed emergency room department at the world-renowned Loma Linda University Medical Center in Loma Linda, California. Two and one-half years later, Tonya graduated--with honors--with a master's degree in nursing and with her advanced degree - Family Nurse Practitioner.

MacDonald then worked in a family practice clinic for a doctor with whom she had worked in the ER at Loma Linda. After working in southern California for nearly two years as an NP, she took a position of Clinic Manager and the only family nurse practitioner for Lake Almanor Clinic in Chester, California, population 2,316. "I remember when I was driving into this town that I wanted to be here, even before I had interviewed or even ‘landed’ the job. I loved that after 10 years of nursing, experiencing many things and acquiring a wealth of knowledge from those experiences, I would return to the basis of my nursing education from the University of Wyoming, where the major emphasis was always rural nursing and how to serve the underserved. I knew I would be able to really forge out a place in this very rural small community due to the leadership skills, the education I received from both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and my nursing career up to this point. I want to make a difference in people’s lives; I want to make an indelible imprint on the profession that I have loved since the beginning of my time.”

Read MacDonald's full story by clicking HERE.

MacDonald receives Air Force award

Above: MacDonald accepts USAF Achievement Medal

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 Tonya MacDonald, UW Grad 2002

2002 BSN Grad

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Tonya MacDonald, RN in the Loma Linda Emergency Room Department

MacDonald, RN
at Loma Linda

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Tonya MacDonald, FNP

MacDonald, FNP

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MacDonald celebrates earning her MS degree

MacDonald earns MS degree

Tonya MacDonald
Tonya MacDonald in 2002 on a helipad in Mississippi where she was placed for her senior "choice-based" clinical for the University of Wyoming BSN program.

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