When Elizabeth Leeper, BSN, RN, CNOR stepped into the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony in April to accept her award as one of the 100 greatest nurses in the Dallas-Fort Worth area she did so dressed in turquoise and white.
But truth be told her stellar nursing career began 20 years ago while wearing Oklahoma Baptist University College of Nursing’s signature green and gold.
“It is a huge honor,” Leeper said of the award and of having graduated from Oklahoma Baptist University.
Leeper and the rest of the DFW Great 100 Nurses were selected in the blind by a panel of nursing professionals from hundreds of nominations.
The nurses recognized came from all practice areas in nursing including acute care, sub-acute care, school nursing, nurse leaders, academics and many more.
The DFW Great Nurses recognition is a once in a lifetime honor a nurse can receive.
Leeper has spent 19 years at Cook Children’s Hospital, but she didn’t see it coming 20 years ago.
“When I was in nursing school at OBU pediatrics was my first rotation and I didn’t like it,” she said. “I said I would never go into pediatrics.”
Two decades later, the nurse manager is leading Cook Children’s hospital through its fourth expansion.
“I absolutely love being a surgical nurse,” she said. “It’s never anything more than one-on-one nursing.”
Even after so many years, Leeper is still in awe of what she does. And she understands the gravity of her situation and those she cares for.
“I’ve never lost sight that it’s a privilege to know a mom is trusting me with her most precious possession,” she said. “We as perioperative nurses are indeed that last stop. If something gets by us no one else will catch it.”
And it all started for Leeper at the Christian liberal arts university in Shawnee.
Looking back, OBU has given Leeper so much. It’s where she earned her nursing degree and found her husband, David, an OBU business grad.
“When I was looking for nursing schools I looked at the University of Oklahoma, Texas Christian and Baylor,” Leeper conceded. “Those were so big. I grew up in Stroud. OBU appealed to me because it was a small school. When I started asking around and did my research I found it was also one of the best nursing schools anywhere.”
Leeper benefited from the smaller campus and the smaller class sizes.
“That was huge,” she said. “It was never a problem even if I needed to go to the dean and ask something. It wasn’t a big deal as opposed to the bigger universities where you’re lucky if your advisor even knows your name.”
And it’s why she’s re-enrolled, this time pursuing a master’s degree in Global Nursing. With two kids, a full-time career and a marriage, Leeper says the online format will allow her to finish her degree this December.
“I love the fact that even though I live in Fort Worth I can have an OBU graduate degree,” she said.
Leeper expects her Global Nursing degree to shrink her world. She already volunteers as a surgical nurse on mission trips to Colombia and Thailand. Her team will be in India in October.
She wouldn’t mind if the mission trips continued to grow.
Oklahoma Baptist University’s graduate nursing education offerings have continued to grow.
Building on a professional nursing education at the undergraduate level, the mission of the nursing graduate program at Oklahoma Baptist University is to prepare advanced nurses for delivery of health care with diverse populations and leadership roles in rapidly changing health care systems.
This is accomplished through the integration of advanced professional knowledge and Judeo-Christian beliefs.
OBU began offering online MSN courses in the Fall of 2014.
Students can now complete their coursework from the comfort of their own home or anywhere else they needed to be.
In a classroom setting, an MSN in Nursing Education can be obtained in only 18 months.
At Oklahoma Baptist University’s Graduate School, students in the Master of Science in Nursing degree program learn nursing education principles and skills in an exciting, contemporary environment.
An MSN in Global Nursing is also offered.
This degree track is designed for individuals who wish to step into leadership positions in international health organizations or cross-cultural health care settings within the United States.
Graduates will gain the expertise and experience needed to help develop and guide health care systems within cross-cultural populations.
OBU also offers an RN-MSN degree track designed for associate degree or diploma licensed registered nurses who would like to advance their education.
The online format is designed to allow working individuals to pursue their education while continuing to work.
It works for Leeper, who will never forget that her career started while wearing gold and green.