Anthony Walker’s life as a registered nurse at OU Health-Edmond Medical Center is filled with dedication and respect for patients and staff. (at the time of this photo Anthony Walker was between surgeries and could not remove his mask)

story and photo by James Coburn, Staff Writer

Anthony Walker comes from a family of nurses and keeps family at heart.
“My uncles are nurses, my cousins are nurses,” said Anthony Walker, RN, who serves as an operating room nurse (circulator) at OU Health-Edmond Medical Center.
“I feel a responsibility when I put on a uniform that I’m taking care of someone’s family member. I know what I put into the world will come back karma-wise. If one of my parents were having surgery, I would want the team taking care of my parents,” Walker said. “I know that I can make an impact doing my job to the best of my ability.”
When Walker was in the U.S. Air Force, he recognized he was smart enough to go to college, but he didn’t want a degree for a career he didn’t want. A nursing career appealed to him. He had surgery, himself, while in the Air Force and observed how things were supposed to be done by the nurses. (story continues below)

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Walker has spent nine years in the OR since graduating from the nursing program at Rose State College in Midwest City. Rose State College had an awesome team of instructors, he said.
“I hadn’t been to school in 10 years. This time when I went back to school I was focused because I knew what I wanted to do,” he said. “I went back to school when I was 28 and I just had a different mindset. It was the most challenging thing in my lifetime, going to nursing school. It was very tough, a lot of work, but it paid off in the end.”
Walker had an internship when in college at OU Medical Center, located on the campus of the OU Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City. He joined OU Medical Center in 2019.
“I was fascinated because I didn’t learn too much about operating room nursing when I was in school. But when I did the internship it felt like a different world,” Walker said. “Just taking care of patients in that capacity — that’s what I wanted to do.”
A nursing career is rewarding but is not always like sunshine, he said. So, Walker admires the resiliency and perseverance of his coworkers who rise to the occasion of saving lives and improving healthcare.
The team of nurses understands best practices for patient centered nursing, he said. Everybody has a role to do. Emergency surgeries make predictable days of scheduling a bit different. There are generally three to five surgeries per operating room at the hospital and there are five dedicated operating rooms, Walker said.
Part of Walker’s role is to interview patients prior to surgery. He must ascertain that they had nothing to eat on the day of surgery. Patients are also asked why they are having surgery and if they have questions. Walker will mark the body area a surgeon will work on.
“I found over nine years, for me, the best thing to say is, ‘You’ve got a great team taking care of you,’” Walker said. “And once they hear that, I see their eyes light up and they know they’re in good hands. It just takes off all the pressure knowing there’s a great team taking care of them. It’s not our first time doing this. We’re doing this every week, and you want a professional team taking care of you.”
He enjoys the times when patients will write thank you notes to the nursing staff. There was a patient who had just gotten out of surgery and was recovering from the effects of anesthesia.
“She thanked me because she was nervous about having the surgery. She thanked me personally, saying I calmed her down until she felt comfortable having the surgery by the words I said to her,” Walker said. “She just thanked me for it.”
But Walker and the other nurses do not rest on their laurels. OU Health-Edmond Medical Center provides health streams for continuing education. In-service meetings take place to introduce additional medical equipment with a representative to demonstrate how it works and to answer questions. Walker takes notes on his phone.
“I’m a visual guy, so I need to see it,” he said. “So, that’s how we keep up-to-date.”
He recommends OU Health-Edmond Medical Center because he knows what goes on there behind the scenes.
“It’s kind of like if I was a chef. Behind the scenes you’re in the kitchen. Whoever is in the kitchen behind the scenes you see food prepared to make sure it’s safe,” he said. “I know the team here. We do everything to the best of our ability to make sure the patients are safe. I feel comfortable.
It makes him feel part of a community, that he is part of a team and not just one person,” he said.
At home, he is dedicated to caring for his 13-month-old baby girl named Aalune-Noi.
“Just taking care of her brings me joy after a hard day at work.”
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