Northwestern grows healers

Leslie Collins, DNP, MS, RN still remembers the conversation with her Northwestern Oklahoma State University mentor.
“They said you educate every day and I think you could make a difference in students’ lives,” Collins recalls.
From there, she took a job in her alma mater’s nursing program skills lab. Thirteen years later, she’s chair of Northwestern Oklahoma State’s Charles Morton Share Trust Division of Nursing.
And she couldn’t be more proud of the impact her faculty has on students.
“I love it because of our ability to make a difference, to be one-on-one with the student and really help them,” Collins said. “I stay here because of the faculty and our administration. Our administration’s support is like no other.”
“It was a starting point for me and I love being that starting point for students.”
Northwestern Oklahoma State University is a public regional university that has received national acclaim for its combination of a high quality academic program and affordability. While Northwestern primarily serves the vast geographical area of northwest Oklahoma and the Panhandle, its students come from more than 40 states and 20 countries.
Northwestern offers a bachelor’s of science in nursing, an online RN-to-BSN program, as well as a hybrid BSN-to-DNP program.
Collins matriculated from Northwestern not only debt-free but with a solid nursing foundation forged by instructors who poured into her.
“I think it makes all the difference in the world, specifically when it comes to nursing,” Collins said of the personalized instruction she received. “It’s something we do at Northwestern across our degrees and programs and it makes a difference in the student. It makes them know they are more than a number. It’s about their education and what they need.”
“We find more and more students need to know the way they learn so they can continue to be lifelong learners, far past their graduation. That’s so important for nursing and we can work with them one on one to help them be more successful. Caring is a component that is threaded throughout our program, we feel it is important for students to be caring in nature and to learn resiliency in this process. We hope this, and have seen in the past, will translate into what type of nurse they become.”
Collins said many Northwestern students go on to practice in rural settings, but others go on to larger facilities.
There’s a common thread in the employer feedback Collins receives.
“They speak on how well-prepared our graduates are,” Collins said. “Also, they speak about how professional they are, how caring they are and how they work well with the teams. Not only are they a good nurse, prepared and ready for patient care but they’re also good team members and ready to make a difference in the nursing world.”
Collins said the university is looking at expanding its offering to help meet existing needs throughout healthcare, in whatever setting that may be.
“I feel like we do a really good job of ensuring students put patients and their families first and we also include how to have self care as a nurse and how important that is,” Collins said. “For so long, it’s been all about the patient and the client and it should continue to be, but we also have to remember we have to care for ourselves as well.”

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