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7 Career Tips for Oklahoma City Nurses

Oklahoma City nurses are in high demand in every specialty and every type of healthcare facility, especially nursing homes. Doors are open for nurses looking to explore Oklahoma City (OKC) as an option to advance in their professions. The following tips can help you make vital connections and find the ideal positions to grow your nursing career in OKC.

1. Pursue Networking Opportunities

Connecting with nurses at other hospitals, clinics or nursing homes helps expand your personal and professional network. Talk to nurses and other staff from every department, so you know what’s happening. Also, always make a point to remember people’s names and positions. You never know when you might potentially call on them for a favor or do a favor for them. 

When it’s time for you to change jobs, your network can help you find new opportunities or settle into new roles. It’s also always helpful to have peers in your corner when you feel burned out.

Networking may also result in finding mentors who can help guide you through the next steps of your career. Seeking input from more experienced nurses when starting a new position can also help you learn how to navigate hospital politics or career advancement.

Oklahoma City offers numerous networking opportunities for RNs, both online and in person. Take advantage of meetings and events to connect with other nurses around the city through local organizations like these:

  • Oklahoma City Area Chapter of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses offers conferences, events and local meetups to provide opportunities for critical care nurses to connect.
  • Oklahoma Nursing Network has more than 14,000 members, strives to connect nurses throughout Oklahoma via Facebook and encourages members to reach out when in need.
  • Oklahoma City Black Nurses Association is a chapter of the National Black Nurses Association offering education and networking to OKC nurses passionate about providing high-quality healthcare for people of color.

2. Join a Professional Organization for Oklahoma City Nurses

Besides networking opportunities, when you join a professional organization, you’re well-positioned to learn the latest regarding what’s going on with nursing in Oklahoma. You have access to top-notch educational seminars and workshops while connecting with other nurses focused on their careers. Some top professional nursing organizations in Oklahoma City include: 

  • Oklahoma Nurses Association: As the local chapter of the American Nurses Association, the ONA is the premier professional organization for RNs in the state. It addresses workplace safety, standards of care and other issues that affect nurses in all specialties.
  • Oklahoma Organization of Nurse Executives: RNs with administrative posts and responsibilities and younger RNs who aspire to management positions receive encouragement to advance their education and support one another in this organization.
  • Association of Oklahoma Nurse Practitioners: Oklahoma nurse practitioners come together for networking opportunities and continuing education through this professional organization for advanced practice nurses.
  • Oklahoma Association of Nurse Anesthetists: This professional organization supports nurse anesthetists through continuing education and opportunities for professional growth while providing opportunities for mutual support.
  • American Psychiatric Nurses Association Oklahoma Chapter: Psychiatric nurses throughout Oklahoma can connect and participate in continuing education and specialized events through this local chapter of the national organization.

3. Explore Top Healthcare Employers in OKC

You have a wide selection of excellent healthcare providers to choose from when you’re seeking a nursing job in Oklahoma City.  These are some great OKC healthcare employers based on employee reviews:

  • INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center: As the top-rated hospital in OKC and a member of one of the top healthcare systems nationwide, this hospital’s nursing staff rate their satisfaction as excellent, in part because the facility prioritizes work-life balance. INTEGRIS Baptist ranks well for wound care, COPD care, abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, colon cancer surgery and treatment of hip fractures, among other specialties.
  • OU Health – University of Oklahoma Medical Center: OU Health’s University of Oklahoma medical facility is considered the state’s flagship medical center and home to Oklahoma’s top organ transplant team and only bone marrow transplant center. It’s the only Level I trauma center in the state and known for providing excellent care to stroke patients. Nurses appreciate that OU Health provides excellent compensation for them and other healthcare professionals in the state.
  • Mercy Hospital: Recognized as a top hospital by Fortune, Mercy Hospital is especially known for its maternity services, offering a Level-III neonatal ICU and comprehensive women’s healthcare. It also receives recognition for its stroke center, neuroscience specialists and cancer care center.
  • Oklahoma Children’s Hospital: Pediatric nurses may want to check out this hospital operated by OU Health and ranked No. 1 in the state. It offers more than 20 specialty clinics and earned national attention in pediatric gastroenterology/GI surgery and cardiology/heart surgery.
  • SSM Health St. Anthony Hospital Oklahoma City: As the No. 4 employer in Oklahoma, St. Anthony is home to numerous nurses. This high-performing hospital earned national rankings for treating COPD and heart failure and performing hip and knee replacements.

4. Choose Highly-Paid Specialties that Offer Advancement

Nurses generally choose a specialty that suits their personality and lifestyle. Perhaps you love babies and children, so consider being a neonatal or pediatric nurse. If your heart goes out to the elderly, you may gravitate toward nursing jobs in a hospice or nursing home environment. However, if you have your eyes on advancement, it doesn’t hurt to pay attention to the high-paying advanced practice RN specialties. In late 2022, these included:

  • Nurse anesthetists:  These specialists administer anesthesia to patients during surgeries and work in hospitals, outpatient clinics and dentist’s offices.
  • Neonatal nurse practitioners: Working primarily in neonatal ICUs, these experienced APRNs care for newborns with life-threatening conditions.
  • Emergency room nurse practitioners: These advanced practice ER nurses provide acute trauma care in emergency rooms, trauma wards and urgent care clinics.
  • Cardiac nurse practitioners: Often working in cardiology clinics or specialized hospital wards, these nurse practitioners treat serious heart conditions and other diseases impacting the circulatory system.
  • Orthopedic nurse practitioners: These specialists, often found in sports medicine healthcare facilities and hospitals, treat injuries to the bones, muscles and joints.

5. Stay on Top of In-Demand Specialties in Oklahoma City

There’s high demand for nurses of all types in OKC, so you’ll likely find positions that most appeal to you. Even newly licensed RNs have ample opportunities to take nurse resident positions, where they begin their practice as nurses and gain advanced clinical training in a specialization of their choice. Other RN specialties in high demand in OKC include:

  • Med-Surg nurses: These nursing professionals provide care to patients preparing for or recovering from surgery in hospitals, outpatient clinics or even home environments. Some med-surg nurses specialize in telemetry, remotely monitoring patients’ vital signs with dedicated equipment.
  • Intermediate care nurses: Patients whose conditions don’t require an ICU but need more care than they’d receive in a standard hospital ward often receive care on an intermediate care floor, where they receive specialized monitoring by intermediate care RNs.
  • Emergency care nurses: These nurses work in fast-paced ERs and urgent care clinics to provide trauma care on an emergent basis.
  • Clinical care nurses: Nurses specializing in clinical care diagnose and treat patients with acute or chronic illnesses and typically focus on pediatric, neonatal or gerontology care.
  • Float nurses: RNs with the clinical competence to work in multiple areas float between different units within a hospital because they can jump in wherever needed. They typically work in hospitals, but they also make excellent travel nurses.
  • ICU nurses: These RNs provide advanced technical care to the most critically ill or unstable patients within a hospital’s intensive care unit.
  • Case management nurses: Specialists in case management design and implement healthcare plans for patients dealing with chronic or serious illnesses and the elderly.
  • Oncology nurses: These RNs work in hospitals, clinics and cancer centers to help patients with the complex treatments needed for various types of cancer.
  • OR nurses: Working alongside surgeons in the operating room, OR nurses assist with surgeries and care for patients before and after operations.

6. Ask for a Competitive Salary

The average nurse salary in Oklahoma City depends largely on the special skills and training you bring to the job. However, Vivian posted an average hourly salary of $31.98 for RNs working in a permanent position in OKC in mid-October 2022. This amount was 3% higher than Oklahoma’s state average of $31.15 per hour and usually goes up if you’re a travel nurse. With higher credentials, you should see significant boosts in salary. For example, staff nurse practitioners in OKC earned an average of $54.69 per hour during this same period.

7. Add to Your Experience by Travel Nursing

If you’re exploring different facets of nursing, one way to get a wide array of experience is through Oklahoma City travel nurse jobs. As a travel nurse, you work in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities, allowing you to check out different work environments while getting paid to see the country and seek adventures.

The typical travel nurse salary in Oklahoma City is often significantly higher than the pay received by RNs who stay in one place. It’s an ideal position for nurses with flexible schedules and the freedom to travel. In mid-October 2022, travel nurse salaries in OKC paid about $2,428 per week, but some positions posted on Vivian were paying as high as $3,996.

Travel nursing offers the added benefit of switching the type of nursing you’re doing, making it easy to try out different areas without making a long-term commitment. Constantly changing between nursing fields also provides an excellent way of gaining new skills that can enhance your nursing career. Honing your skills makes you more desirable to employers in Oklahoma City and other cities around the nation.

Rachel Norton BSN, RN

Rachel Norton became an RN in 2007 and has been part of the Vivian team since 2019. She has always worked in critical care, and spent the first 12 years of her career working in a surgical neuroscience trauma ICU. She's also worked as a flight nurse, started travel nursing in 2010 and continued working in the ICU until joining Vivian full-time in 2022. As a user researcher, Rachel advocates for healthcare workers to help bridge the gap between employee and employer expectations.

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