Majestic outdoor scenery, affordable living, and a friendly, can-do heartland attitude make Oklahoma an ideal place to pursue a healthcare career.
For nurses, the state offers innovative health systems, as well as plentiful job and education opportunities, allowing growth and advancement at multiple levels. But its the compassionate, giving nature of Oklahomans, from colleagues and patients to everyday residents, that inspires many nurses to call the Sooner State home.
We welcome everyone with open arms, says Lynn Sandoval, RN, BSN, NE-BC, executive director for Mercy Health Center in Oklahoma City. Its a very comfortable setting. When someones in need, we step up to the plate to take care of them.Danielle Nelson, RN
A major area of pride for nurses in Oklahoma is the healthcare communitys strong sense of teamwork and swift emergency responsiveness. Adrienne Oden, RN, MS, was working in the operating room at a local hospital April 19, 1995, when the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was bombed. Although she describes the day as surreal, she was amazed by the disaster preparedness people demonstrated.
I dont think we realized at the time it was happening how significant it was both to the community and the world, says Oden, now the director of neurosciences and perioperative services for St. Anthony Hospital in Oklahoma City. Everybody working that day shares that experience. Pulling it all together when there is a crisis is something that the heartland does well.Cindy Rauh, RN
Oklahoma boasts 156 hospitals treating about 518,282 inpatients and 5,869,145 outpatients annually, according to the Oklahoma Hospital Association. About 25 hospitals exist in the Oklahoma metro area, including psychiatric hospitals, specialty hospitals and VA clinics. Tulsas metro area has about 20 hospitals.
Two hospitals in Oklahoma City, Mercy Health Center and INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center, have been recognized as Magnet facilities by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.
Oklahoma offers a lot of opportunities for nursing, says Cindy Rauh, RN, MSN, president of the Oklahoma Organization of Nurse Executives. She also is vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer at Duncan Regional Hospital in Duncan, Okla. Were seeing more nurse practitioners practice out in the clinics and areas that before were primarily physician driven. We are also seeing more clinical nurse leaders in hospital settings.Lynn Sandoval, RN
Oklahoma nurses tout the encouragement, incentives, and support they receive from hospitals and other healthcare facilities to continue learning, something Rauh says is exciting.
Danielle Nelson, RN, BSN, CPN, started at OU Medical Center as a nurses aid in 2002. She now works in the hospitals pediatric surgical unit and is planning to pursue her masters degree.
Our community is really growing, says Nelson, who attended Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee. There are a lot of job opportunities for nurses. When I finished school, I had classmates who were from other states where there were hospitals that werent even hiring.Vanessa Morgan, RN
Nursing programs in the area have increased their capacity in recent years, Oden says. A nurse educator for 15 years, Oden was involved during the late 1990s in creating one of the first online programs for nursing students.
Cutting-edge training and technology at Oklahoma hospitals fosters learning on the job as well. A simulation lab at INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center helps nurses practice various scenarios on mannequins, says Vanessa Morgan, RN, BSN, CCRN, staff nurse in the neurological ICU. Morgan says the simulation lab helps make tasks such as inserting a catheter or an IV tube easier.
If its your first time and youre brand new that can be really nerve-racking to do to a live patient, Morgan says. To be able to simulate that on a mannequin is really neat.Troy Kite, RN
OU Medical Centers shared governance council, started last year, gives nurses a chance to examine policy and conduct research to ensure the best practices, Nelson says.
Theyre able to have a voice in their daily practice, Nelson says. If they feel like theres something thats been outdated or needs to be addressed, then were able to do the research to make the changes.
Nurses in Oklahoma appreciate the openness to new concepts they experience in the workplace. St. Anthony Hospital is in the process of developing a neuroscience nursing unit to provide nursing care specially tailored to neuroscience patients, Oden says.
I think St. Anthony [Hospital] is very open to change and embracing new ideas, she says. Were always looking for the best practice or the best ways to do things.
Troy Kite, RN, BSN, has witnessed the solidarity Oklahoma healthcare workers and facilities show in times of need. A charge nurse in the neuro trauma surgical ICU at St. John Medical Center in Tulsa, Kite says local hospitals work together to make sure patients receive the individualized trauma care required.
Its just good teamwork, says Kite, whose hospital is the first and only Joint Commission accredited stroke center in northeastern Oklahoma. As nurses, we just work together to see the best outcome for the patients.