Tom, Deanna, Jack and Alan Prater


If you were to look among a crowd of Prater family members, just about every one you see works in health care. Husband and wife team Deanna and Tom Prater, Tom’s brother and sister-in-law, and Deanna’s mom worked in the profession.

Tom and Deanna met in the military. He grew up in Reedsport and she in Pennsylvania. When they finished service, they landed on the south coast in the late 1990s. Tom had it in his mind to go into nursing, having watched the timber industry crash while growing up. He knew it was a good pathway.

They enrolled at SWOCC.

“I was doing math, physics, and engineering. Tom definitely didn’t want to move out of the area. I thought what am I going to do with a math degree?” Deanna said.

It’s funny how things work out.

It wasn’t long before Deanna entered the nursing program. Today, the Praters have enjoyed nearly 25 years in the profession.

“There are so many avenues you can do in nursing. I feel like there is some avenue for anyone,” she said.

Tom worked at Bay Area Hospital for years, and now works in the ER at Lower Umpqua Hospital in Reedsport. Deanna works at Lower Umpqua, too, as Director of Infection Control, Employee Health and Safety.

Soon Deanna and Tom’s sons, Jack and Alan, will enter the profession. Both are first-year nursing students at SWOCC and living at home so they work their way through school debt-free. 

“With nursing, you help people,” said Jack who’s 30 and ready for a new career. “And, you can make a living wage and own a home here.”

Alan had worked entry level jobs in health care, monitoring people’s hearts and then at the cancer center. He’s comfortable in a health care setting. He had the opportunity to take a free ride to law school in Salem, but turned it down for a career in nursing. Oregon desperately needs nurses and is among the top five states with the highest pay for RNs.

“This field is useful and helpful whereever you go, and wherever you are,” Alan said.

The brothers study together. Being able to work and go to school at the same time has been helpful, too.

“It’s convenient. I attend lectures remotely and in-person,” Alan said.

This winter, the brothers started their “clinicals” – the hands-on hospital work experience alongside a Registered Nurse.

“Seems like I know every fifth person. It’s cool taking care of people you live around,” Jack said.

Deanna and Tom didn’t pressure their sons to go into nursing. Their message to each son was simple.

“Be a good person. Enjoy life. Find a partner you can have a happy life with. Contribute to the world. Do something good.”

The next generation of Praters intends to follow that mission. Nursing will give them a start in that direction.  


To learn more about our Nursing program text or call 541-240-8227; email: SWOCCbound@socc.edu.


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