Nothing can prepare you for what it feels like to tend to a patient for the first time, especially in labor and delivery. But Baleigh Petree says Northwestern Oklahoma State University gave her all the tools and training to skillfully care for patients from the very first day she set foot in a hospital.
Baleigh knew early on that she would practice women’s and pediatric healthcare. One day, as a little girl she proudly announced to her kindergarten teacher that she would be a pediatric nurse. Helping women and babies is exactly what she grew up to do. Today she has a bachelor’s in nursing from Northwestern Oklahoma State University and works as a labor and delivery nurse at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Enid, Oklahoma.
“I think it was easier for me to find a good job after graduation because I had a bachelor’s in nursing. All the hospitals in northwest Oklahoma know that nurses who come out of NWOSU’s program are well-trained and ready to practice.”
Baleigh chose the NWOSU program for it’s reputation as one of the best local nursing programs, and shifts in her job market made it the smart choice. Many hospitals are shifting to prioritizing bachelor’s degreed nurses over those with an associate degree only. Clinicals and lab simulations in the NWOSU nursing program were incredibly hands on and immersive. Simulator mannequins at the school could change their breath sounds or simulate a condition so students could listen, take vital signs and learn how to spot symptoms or problems. NWOSU also had a volunteer program in place to simulate an emergency room visit or a specific situation a patient might experience- in fact Baleigh’s own grandmother volunteered a couple times. At NWOSU many of the nursing program advisors were also professors, and Baleigh believes it made a big impact on her education to work with teachers who understood her long-term career goals. Because the class sizes are so small, and the program is hands on and intense, the students and professors in Baleigh’s program became very close. “The 12 of us were together studying almost all the time. We’d rotate between the different campuses in Enid, Alva and Woodward so we’d carpool together. I won’t forget the people I met through the nursing program for the rest of my life.” says Baleigh. Coming from a very close knit family, Baleigh learned a lot from her loved ones’ experiences. Her aunt worked in labor and delivery and her mother earned a masters degree in psychology from Northwestern Oklahoma State University. “Taking care of people runs in my family. It was nice to have my aunt as a mentor while I was going through the program. I even found out I had passed my NCLEX exam through the board of nursing on her birthday!” says Baleigh. As a child, Baleigh loved hearing stories about newborn babies from her aunt and also spent time hanging around the university as her mother sat through class. When she began the nursing program at NWOSU she would pass by the very lounge areas she used to occupy as a kid.
“Going to nursing school in Enid and now working at the hospital here has helped me stay a part of the community I grew up in. I’m glad I can care for patients here and give back to people in my town.”
Today many of Baleigh’s colleagues at St. Mary’s graduated from the same nursing program. It is well known by regional hospitals and clinics as a program that sends t skilled nurses into Oklahoma’s workforce.