CAREERS IN NURSING
FAST TRACK: ST. ANTHONY NURSE ON ADVANCED PRACTICE COURSE
by Bobby Anderson – Writer/Photographer
It was her eighth grade year in Fairview that Ashley Wilder, RN, had her first introduction to the field of healthcare.
A health fair afforded Wilder her first look into a world she didn’t even know existed.
“I liked the pharmacists because I loved math and I knew they would get to do a lot of math,” Wilder recalled. “I liked the doctors because of the science. I knew I would get to help people.”
Wilder thought she had it all figured out, enrolling at the University of Oklahoma four short years later and opting for the pre-med route.
A doctor she would be.
To get her feet wet she worked as a nursing assistant in Norman. She saw how the doctors interacted with the patients.
And she saw how the nurses cared for them.
“I liked the time with the patients,” Wilder said, emphasizing what prompted a switch in studies and schools.
That’s why a few years later Wilder is now a nurse herself, working in the St. Anthony Healthplex East ER.
It’s been a year-and-half since she graduated from nursing school at Oklahoma City University.
Those five years working on the floor with oncology patients were impactful for Wilder.
They were the reason she went to nursing school.
“I loved it. It was a lot of hard work but it was over material I enjoyed learning so I didn’t mind studying,” Wilder said.
She studied a lot of different specialties but it was her clinical rotations that brought everything into focus.
“I always thought I would like the ER and the fast-pace but it wasn’t until I did my ER clinicals that I knew I would love it,” Wilder said.
St. Anthony Hospital in downtown Oklahoma City was where it all became clear.
It was her favorite clinical and her favorite hospital.
“I felt like nurses get more say-so in the ER,” she said. “It’s so quick we have to react quickly, we don’t always have time to wait for the doctor so watching my preceptor (at St. Anthony) downtown when we had a critical patient and how quick he just reacted and jumped on it I knew that was something I wanted to be able to do.”
So it was no surprise that she went looking for an ER job when she graduated and not a shock she wanted one in the St. Anthony system.
The journey to nursing has been one Wilder says really hasn’t changed her as much as brought out who she really is.
“I’ve gained a lot of confidence,” Wilder says. “As a new nurse I didn’t believe I was going to be able to do the stuff I do today. I know now when I walk into my patient’s room I can take care of them.”
Wilder has barely taken a moment to breathe. Soon after finishing up at OCU she enrolled in nurse practitioner school.
She admits she’s on the fast track but it doesn’t seem too quick.
“I knew that’s what I wanted to do. It’s something I’ve prayed on and I knew that’s where I was being led,” she said.
Soon after she gets her advanced practice license she wants to go into public health, giving back to the community. Whether that will be a big or small community isn’t quite clear yet.
But she has time to figure it out.
“It’s challenging. I’m still in the beginning stages so it’s not awful yet,” she jokes.
Hailing from Fairview, Wilder learned that her freshman class at OU was twice as large as the population of her hometown.
Now she takes care of people from places smaller and much bigger than Fairview.
Working in a 14-bed emergency room in Eastern Oklahoma County, Wilder’s day can swing in many directions.
Usually between 80 and 120 people come in and out of the ER on a typical day.
“We work with the same people pretty much every time we work. We have the same crew so they’re like my second family,” Wilder said. “I spend more time with them than my own family.”
Patients come from as far east as Shawnee and Choctaw routinely to seek care at St. Anthony.
It’s the season for school health fairs all over the state. Wilder remembers how impactful one was on her and she has a message to those eighth graders.
“(I’d tell them) if they like math and science (nursing) would be something that would intrigue them and they would get to use that in their job to help people,” Wilder said. “They would get to see where they could make a difference rather than just hoping to.”