Tracy McBroom Tramel became a student at UT at just 16 years old and graduated at 20 with a degree in broadcasting in 1997. Nearly 20 years later, she’s graduating again, this time as a nurse practitioner.
“You can never go wrong with more education,” said Tramel, a native of Seymour, Tennessee. “I knew I’d be starting over, but I thought if I’m going to be working for the next 25 years it might as well be doing something I love.”
Tramel had always been interested in health care but initially studied architecture before switching her major to the communications industry.
“I was always interested in communications and making sure people understand things,” said Tramel. “After I graduated from UT the first time in 1997, I decided to get my master’s in public relations with a focus on health care communications.”
Her first job out of school was at the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce. She then went on to the Ingram Group before becoming an independent public relations contractor with Susan Richardson Williams and Associates for 10 years.
In 2007, Tramel slowly began the process of switching careers from PR to nursing by taking prerequisite courses while continuing to work full time.
In April 2009 she became engaged to Tim Tramel, but a few days after the engagement her fiancé was diagnosed with a terminal brain cancer, glioblastoma. They married in September of that same year.
Tramel entered Carson Newman University’s undergraduate nursing program in August 2010 and graduated May 11, 2012. Her husband passed away just two weeks later.
“During those years I was in nursing school full time, working full time, and taking care of my husband, who was being treated at Duke,” said Tramel. “The nurse practitioners who treated my husband were amazing. They took the time to see all of him, not just the disease.”
In the beginning of Tramel’s nursing journey, she thought about going the physician assistant route.
“The nurses who cared for my husband are a large part of the reason I decided to become a nurse practitioner,” she said.
In June 2012, Tramel got a job at UT Medical Center and put away her career in PR for good.
After two years at the hospital, Tramel entered the master’s program in UT’s College of Nursing in August 2014 but continued to work as an emergency room nurse.
She’ll graduate from UT December 8 and is currently looking for nurse practitioner jobs in the Knoxville and Cincinnati markets.
“A lot of the things I gained in public relations translate over to nursing and have really benefited me,” said Tramel. “In PR you figure out what a client needs, what they’re interested in, and how you can help. The same is true for nursing.”
When asked what advice she would give others who are considering a career change, Tramel says to just do it.
“You’re not always married to what you started with,” said Tramel. “There’s always a chance to do something different. I think people would be surprised at how many of their skills and background can transfer into a seemingly different career path.
“I don’t look back for a second. I’m so glad I did it.”
Tyra Haag (865-974-5460, firstname.lastname@example.org)