Still a Nurse

Still a Nurse

David Rice
Ryann Mason in black scrubs sits in a wheelchair and pumps fist with an excited expression on her face.
  • Event Date: 
    Thursday, October 14, 2021 - 11:00am to 12:00pm
  • Event Location: 
  • Event Speaker(s): 
    • Ms. Ryann Mason
  • Event Host(s): 
    The Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
    The National Institute of Nursing Research
    The Clinical Center Nursing Department

As part of the celebration of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI), in partnership with the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) and the Clinical Center Nursing Department, will host Ms. Ryann Mason as this year’s keynote speaker.

Ryann Mason (formerly Kress) is a 29-year-old disability advocate, registered nurse, proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community, adaptive athlete, public speaker, sexuality educator, and self-proclaimed loudmouth southern belle. Ryann was born with a rare genetic collagen disorder called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS). EDS causes a plethora of symptoms, the most obvious being hypermobile joints that dislocate easily.

Despite her diagnosis, Ryann pursued a career in health care. She started as a volunteer EMT at her local rescue squad and eventually achieved her dream of working as a nurse in the Emergency Department. Her diagnosis progressed over the years and led to her becoming reliant on a wheelchair for her mobility; she left her dream job in the ER when she was 26 years old. Instead of allowing her disability to get her down, she decided to turn toward what she knew best, helping others.

Ryann created an Instagram account called Chronically Ry where she posts photos, videos, and write-ups showing her life and experiences living with a chronic illness and degenerative disability. Originally only expecting to be followed by her family and friends, she was shocked to find her platform’s following exploding seemingly overnight. She quickly discovered she loved, and had a knack for, disability advocacy; she was able to use her experiences as a lifelong patient, as well as her education as a registered nurse, to help educate and inspire younger EDS patients and new wheelchair users. Ryann was crowned Ms. Wheelchair Virginia 2020 and was able to travel all over the state of Virginia advocating for others with disabilities and sharing her story and experiences as a physically disabled woman working in health care.

When COVID-19 hit and in-person opportunities dwindled, Ryann turned to Zoom and her social media platforms to continue her advocacy work. Because of her hard work, Ryann was elected to continue her reign for a second year as Ms. Wheelchair Virginia 2021. Ryann was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Ms. Wheelchair America foundation for her advocacy work and significant impact on the disabled community. Ryann has never been one to back down from a challenge and was determined to get back to working as a nurse at the bedside. After nearly 20 applications and several rejections, Ryann was hired as the first RN on wheels in the postpartum unit of her local level one trauma center in Spring 2021. Over the past two years, Ryann has accomplished quite a bit, including being featured in Forbes magazine not once, but twice, having her story told by multiple local news stations, papers, and magazines, expanding her online presence to include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Clubhouse, TikTok, and LinkedIn, as well as amassing a following of well over 15,000 people on her original Instagram page.

Along with her disability advocacy work, Ryann is a published model, adaptive athlete in wheelchair basketball, Optical Course Racer (OCR), weightlifter, and an avid karaoke performer when the mood strikes. When she isn’t working the nightshift or running Chronically Ry, Ryann can be found at home with her girlfriend, accomplished para-athlete Ryen Reed, and their 10-year-old chihuahua, Oliver. Ryann could have let everything she’s been through bring her life to a screeching halt, but instead she continues to share her story to encourage and inform others about the needs and experiences of so many individuals with disabilities all over the world.

Please join us on October 14 at 11:00am ET for the Still a Nurse virtual talk where Ryann will be speaking about her experiences as an RN on wheels and the reactions of her patients, coworkers, and the public when she enters a room as their nurse.

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