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CU College of Nursing Student Ian Overton Ice climbing in Colorado

Students

Wanderlust: “Not all who wander are lost” – J.R. Tolkien

Author Dana Brandorff | Publish Date May 19, 2019

Ian Overton decided to become a nurse after a decade of adventuring and one escapade that brought him close to losing his foot.

An expert mountaineer, explorer, rock and ice climber, Overton said, “Through climbing, everything makes sense in the world. The chaotic environment slows down.”

After graduating in 2007 from CSU with a degree in Political Science, Overton decided to “do something else.”  That something else included working for a heli-skiing operation in Alaska, hitchhiking through Europe, and eventually culminated in an international expedition to ascend Nanga Parbat in Pakistan where Overton acted as a climbing medic.

At the time, Overton was EMT-trained, but “not really prepared for what I encountered.” From leprosy to those crippled by polio, dysentery, and frostbite, “the experience was fairly outside my normal practice.” Then, while on the mountain, he developed high altitude cerebral edema as well as frostbite, and had to quickly descend to get help.

Sick and dehydrated, he eventually made his way to Islamabad where he developed Hepatitis A. Unable to leave his bed, parasites began feeding off necrotic tissue in his arms and shoulders. Fortunately, he had amoxicillin and other antibiotics in his med pack, which helped fight the infection. “That was the turning point for me.  I felt broken down and alone, and I didn’t want others to feel that way. That’s when I decided to pursue health care.”

When he returned to the US, he started thinking about his next adventure and found that nursing beckoned. “I really felt a kinship to nursing because of the human touch that nurses provide versus what a physician or PA does.”

As Overton closes in on completing his BSN, he has his next adventure mapped out as a nurse with Swedish Hospital.