by Bobby Anderson
Two deployments overseas as a combat medic. A marriage, three kids and a job as a nursing assistant at Mercy Hospital Logan County.
Alex Hughes is more than ready for his next assignment which happens to be president of the Oklahoma Nursing Student Association.
Hughes will lead Oklahoma’s largest body of student nurses after his election a few weeks ago at the organization’s annual convention.
Growing up an Army brat, Hughes moved often, traversing the U.S. and the globe with stops in Germany and Okinawa, Japan along the way.
Moving every year and a half taught him the importance of family and flexibility.
It was no surprise that he would later enter the Army after graduating from a military high school in Oklahoma.
Initially, Hughes served as an engineer in the reserves. He quickly learned his body would pay the price long term in that specialty so decided to change when he moved over to active duty.
The field of healthcare specialist didn’t exactly catch on. But when the recruiter told him “combat medic” he was hooked.
“I loved it,” Hughes said. “I had a blast with it.”
Hughes started off attached with some of the same engineers he went through training with.
Basing out of Fort Carson, Colorado Hughes spent one year serving in Iraq, moving from Kirkuk to Mosul.
He returned home and married before shipping out to the Arghandab River valley in Afghanistan.
Coming down from the guard tower one day during a base security rotation he heard one of his fellow soldiers yell “Hey doc, by the way you’re a dad now.”
He hurried into the communications tent to talk to his wife, who had minutes earlier delivered their first child.
For the last couple of years Hughes has worked as a nursing assistant at Mercy’s 25-bed critical access hospital which offers both acute and skilled care (swing bed) services in Guthrie.
His focus has always been on getting his BSN at the University of Central Oklahoma. Now just one semester stands in his way.
He’s put the skills learned in the Army to good use.
“It helped a lot in the clinical side of it,” Hughes said. “I was already used to doing some of the skills and was used to doing hands-on patient care. However, the rest was complete opposite.”
As a medic it was Hughes’ role to diagnose and prescribe. Stepping back from that was tough.
“It took me a little time … to manage their care,” he said.
And working part-time now Hughes wants to devote more time to growing the student association.
“The main thing I would like to really see happen is more involvement from other schools,” he said. “We have a lot of schools that have delegates but never show up to events. I’d like to see more schools that haven’t been involved.”
Hughes encourages students from more schools to get involved and eventually run for office. Right now just four universities are represented on the board with only people from five universities running for office.
Nursing students preparing for Registered Nurse licensure or RN to BSN completion programs are invited to join ONSA. By joining ONSA you are also becoming a member of the National Student Nurse Association.
Hughes said by joining you can take advantage of leadership opportunities and product discounts that ONSA and NSNA have to offer.
Hughes now leads the Board of Directors which is the policy-making body of the Oklahoma Nursing Student Association between meetings of the House of Delegates held annually.
Each board member has responsibilities in various program areas of the association and must also function as part of the organizational board of directors, sharing equally in the fiscal and decision-making responsibilities. Each board member is expected to serve the association as a whole and to represent the needs of all members.
Hughes previously served on the board as the marketing director.
There are twelve members of the Board of Directors behind Hughes including: 1st Vice President, 2nd Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Membership Director, Newsletter Editor, Legislative Director, Breakthrough Director, Community Projects Director, Public Relations Director, and Marketing Director.
The association will begin the year on January 20th at Tulsa Community College with a leadership summit.
A panel of nurses from various fields will be doing a question-and-answer session with attendees and a guest speaker will address the event.
In February the group will partner with the Oklahoma Nurses Association for the group’s annual Nurses Day at the Capitol.
To find out more about the Oklahoma Nursing Student Association go online to oknsa.net.