Where are they now? Tra Williams '11
Interviewee: Tra Williams
Interviewer: Kyle Hansen
Originally from Gainesville, Florida, Tra Williams is the executive director of Valley Health Care Center in Billings. Williams joined the navy in 1984 and earned his nursing degree from Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Maryland. Tra earned a master’s in education from MSUB in 2011.
KH: Where are you now in your career and what has been your path leading you to this point in your professional career?
TW: I’ve been doing healthcare since 1984. I retired from the military in 2007. My wife is from Billings so we moved to her hometown. I was the director of nursing at Billings Health and Rehab. From there I went to Billings Clinic. My position there was Director of Region Operations. From there I went to Advanced Care Hospital for a year where I was the director of nursing operation and this positioned opened, which is with the Goodman Group, a family member of Billings Health and Rehab. So it was a job with a company I knew much about and I thought this would be a great place to come and it has been.
KH: You achieved your master’s in education from MSUB correct?
TW: Correct. I did kind of a hybrid degree. I did interdisciplinary studies. Because I’m a nurse, I wanted to do nursing classes in healthcare administration. So I did several courses from the healthcare administration. I did three or four courses from Bozeman, a nursing program on nursing education. Then the rest was done at MSUB on campus.
KH: Have you been teaching others how to become nurses or teaching nursing classes?
TW: I don’t. I’m an administrator, and one of the reasons I wanted to do education is because I believe as a good leader, you need to be able to educate other people. And so, it seemed to be a really good fit to really understand adult education teaching, and so I use a lot of those things on a daily basis, to, in my opinion, be successful at managing other people.
KH: What do you do on a day-to-day basis as the director here?
TW: I oversee all of the operations of the facility. So there’s the clinical operations, there’s the facilities operations, budgets and making sure that we remain viable and that we’re providing a service. Nursing homes aren’t what they used to be. And what’s exciting about it is as we’re transitioning to the Baby Boomers, I think there’s going to be a need to transition what nursing homes are as compared to what they used to be. So that’s a part of why I wanted to be here. It’s an emerging opportunity so I like being on the cutting edge.
KH: Have you enjoyed it while you’ve been here?
TW: Oh absolutely.
KH: Has it catered to what you’ve been looking for?
TW: Being an administrator, you get to make it what you want it to be. My goal has been, we’re going to be on the pointy end. We’re going to be up front. So it’s been exciting to watch people who have done this for a long time come alongside and say ‘gosh it seems crazy but let’s give it a try.’ And then we’re successful. It feels really good.
KH: What drove you to pursue education at MSUB and not anywhere else?
TW: I wish they had a doctorate program, honestly. I do like it being close; I do like the fact that I had flexibility in the degree I was going to pursue. Like I said, I didn’t want to get a traditional education degree because I was a nurse I am an administrator. That’s why the interdisciplinary degree really appealed to me. I felt I needed all of those elements to be successful in what I envisioned and what I wanted to do.
KH: What were some of your better memories or experiences at MSUB?
TW: I went to mostly evening classes, and, because I’m older, it was really good to be in class with younger people. I feel like I learned a great deal. It gives me an opportunity to, sort of bridge being older but also being current with what’s happening with people and a part of the research. Being able to research and understanding good research from bad research. There’s so much information that we’re inundated with nowadays and I believe that sorting through that becomes easier when you’re prepared to do it and in education that’s what you do. You do a lot of research. You understand the statistics behind the research and so that’s helped me have a sharper eye for, ‘I need this, I need this, I need this, that’s useless.’ I get tons and tons of stuff that comes across this desk every day, and if you spend your time bogged down without understanding what you’re looking for, it becomes harder.
KH: I was reading on the Billings Health website that you hiked Mt. Fuji in Japan. How was that?
TW: Yeah in 1986. It’s one of the most incredible things you can do. I watched the sunrise. I was in the navy, and I was stationed at Camp Fuji, which is a Marine Corps base at the base of Mt. Fuji. And it looks just like the pictures.