Veterans Day: After helping save lives in the Middle East, this veteran is ‘bridging the gap between clinicians and technology’

By Kathryn Lytton

Ryan Hughes, HIM Analyst at HSC Health

When Ryan Hughes, Health Information Management Analyst at HSC Health, joined the United States Air Force as a heavy equipment mechanic, he did not think his time on the battlefield would lead to a career in the medical field.

“I joined the military to help with school,” said Hughes. “You go into it and think it’s going to pay my bills and pay for school, but then you get into a totally different situation than what you imagined, where life and death is on the line. You grow up really quick and changes your values.”

Soon after joining the Air Force, Hughes was cross trained into Air Force Special Forces and became a pararescue.

“The ultimate mission for pararescue was to rescue downed pilots during wartime scenarios,” explained Hughes. “There’s a lot of medical training that went with pararescue, in fact there’s a years’ worth of medical training where you become a paramedic, so it’s basically a paramedic that jumps out of an airplane or helicopter.”

Hughes’ training took him to the Middle East, where he served in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Iraq.

In Iraq, he made his final jump.

“I’ve jumped out of a plane 62 times – all as pararescue,” said Hughes. “When I got shot, I was in the air in a parachute – that was number 62. That ended my jump career.”

As he recovered, Hughes went back to work in the heavy equipment field but needed to have a few back surgeries related to his injuries from the military and his mechanic work.

“With so much time spent in the hospital, I actually had a bunch of cool male nurses who were really relatable to me,” said Hughes. “Combined with my medical experience in pararescue, I decided to go for it and go back to school for nursing.”

Over the years, Hughes transitioned in his nursing roles through different specialties, and cross-trained into his current role as an HIM analyst when electronic medical records took over the medical world.

“I love what I do at HSC because I can help bridge the gap between clinicians and technology,” said Hughes. “It’s always changing every year or even month to month, so I get the opportunity to be someone who can convey that in an electronic format to make it easier for clinicians to do their job better.”

Hughes said he enjoys HSC’s collaborative university atmosphere.

“I like the ideas and values and the opportunity to expand your skills,” he said.

For Hughes, expanding his knowledge and skills drives him through all aspects of life.

“In anything I do, my why is that I want to try everything,” said Hughes. “I want to learn how to fly a plane, learn how to work in technology, I want to try everything. I think it’s interesting to constantly develop yourself and not necessarily in the same area, but expanding into even what we think we can’t do.” 

Recent News

Screenshot 2024 06 20 At 3.45.01 pm
  • Our People
|Jun 20, 2024

From sacrifice to success: a journey through physical therapy school

Ancelmo Mojarro came to Fort Worth to study. The Tyler native knew he wanted to be a physical therapist early on his undergraduate days. He embarked on his path to physical therapy a decade ago, inspired by a friend's suggestion amidst his quest to find his calling in the medical field. “I starte...
Garciarosanski
  • Our People
|Jun 20, 2024

HSC pro bono physical therapy program offers hope

For 70-year-old Beverly Rozanski, the journey to improved health has been long and challenging. Raised in Michigan, Rozanski spent her childhood and early adult years struggling with physical challenges that made even the simplest tasks seem insurmountable. However, her discovery of a pro bono p...
Mills John
  • Our People
|Jun 20, 2024

Team of experts from HSC and TCOM develop a national position statement for NCCHC on care for aging patients in correctional facilities

Addressing an overlooked and sometimes neglected patient population, a group of experts from The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth partnered with the National Commission on Correctional Health Care to write a “Care for Aging Patients in the Correctional Setting” posit...
Jennifer Fix 2 Purple
  • Education
|Jun 18, 2024

Pharmacy technician shortage driving force behind new, online prep course

A self-paced, online Pharmacy Technician Preparation Course is now being offered through The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth as a way to help combat the shortage of pharmacy technicians at hospitals, health systems and retail pharmacies. Recognized by the Pharmacy Tech...