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Oklahoma: Healthcare Employment Location Guide

The wind comes sweeping down the Plains, but nurses and allied health professionals in Oklahoma also enjoy a diverse array of other geographic features. Forests cover approximately 24% of the state and water covers about 1,224 square miles with more man-made lakes than any other state. Oklahoma also has parts of four different mountain ranges within its borders, including the Ozarks, Arbuckles, Wichitas and Ouachitas. Besides an amazing topography and tons of outdoor adventures, Oklahoma offers numerous attractions, unique events, delicious southern cooking, a relatively mild climate and one of the lowest costs of living in the nation.

Top Hospitals in Oklahoma

SSM Health St. Anthony Hospital - Midwest - Vivian

SSM Health St. Anthony Hospital-Oklahoma City: The SSM Health system is the No. 4 ranked employer in the state of Oklahoma. St. Anthony in midtown OKC was rated high performing in five adult procedures and conditions in 2022-23, including heart and kidney failure, knee replacement, stroke and COPD. It serves the healthcare needs of Central Oklahoma with a wide range of services with specialties in cardiology, surgery, oncology and behavioral health. The SSM Health system also operates St. Anthony Hospital-Shawnee, a general medical and surgical teaching facility with a med-surg ICU and onsite 24/7 emergency department.

Integris Baptist Medical Center-Oklahoma City: Integris Baptist Medical Center is the flagship location of the Integris Health Network, which opened in 1959, earned Magnet designation for excellence in nursing services in 2007 and was redesignated four consecutive times. It’s a general medical and surgical facility and teaching hospital and holds high performance ratings in five adult procedures and conditions.

St. Francis Hospital-Tulsa: St. Francis is the anchor of the Saint Francis Health System. It’s a general medical and surgical facility, teaching hospital and tertiary center with 1,112 beds, bariatric services, an onsite emergency department, a cardiac ICU and a med-surg ICU.

Hillcrest Medical Center-Tulsa: The 656-bed flagship hospital of Hillcrest HealthCare System boasts a multitude of services and is Oklahoma’s largest dedicated heart hospital. It offers competitive pay and prides itself on offering opportunities for growth to its employees. The hospital is also dedicated to continual quality improvement and the implementation of the latest technology in healthcare. 

Average Nurse and Allied Health Pay Rates in Oklahoma

Vivian Health regularly posts 100s of healthcare jobs on its jobs marketplace at hospitals and other medical facilities throughout Oklahoma. The following table demonstrates the average rates for travel and staff jobs in nursing and allied health in early December 2022.

Discipline Average Pay Rate Max Pay Rate
Staff Registered Nurse $43/hour $54/hour
Travel Registered Nurse $2,398/week $4,060/week
Staff Allied Health $31/hour $36/hour
Travel Allied Health $2,280/week $3,205/week

Within each discipline, certain specialties were in higher demand than others. In-demand RN roles included positions in med-surg, telemetry, ICU, ED, PCU, OR, stepdown, intermediate care, home health, float and case management. Top recruited allied health roles included CT techs, medical technologists, surgical techs, respiratory therapists, cath lab techs, ultrasound techs, MRI techs and interventional radiology techs. While the salaries above reflect the average of all professionals within the discipline, actual pay varies based on specialty, location, the number of working hours, experience, professional certifications and other factors employers may find essential to the role.

Cost of Living in Oklahoma

Oklahoma ranked 2nd in the nation on U.S. News & World Report’s affordability list in 2022, coming in 8th for a low cost of living and 3rd for affordable housing. In the 3rd Quarter of 2022, Oklahoma remained the second-least expensive place to live after Mississippi, per the Council for Community & Economic Research survey. The state posted an overall cost of living index of 86.7, more than 13% below the national average. The cost for utilities, groceries, miscellaneous goods and services, healthcare and transportation were all lower than the national average by 5% to 8.6%, but housing costs were nearly 28% lower.

Top Locations to Live in Oklahoma

Oklahoma City

Oklahoma City

Dubbed OKC by locals, Oklahoma City is the state’s capital and boasts a spirited blend of culture and commerce with a deep western heritage. It offers lots of exciting things to do and major league attractions, including thriving arts and entertainment scenes, prestigious festivals, prolific nightlife and the world-renowned National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. It’s also home to the OKC Thunder NBA basketball team, the prestigious SSM Health St. Anthony Hospital-Oklahoma City and a revitalized downtown area with the stunning Bricktown Entertainment District.

Despite being the largest city in Oklahoma, OKC offers surprisingly affordable prices on groceries and other miscellaneous goods and services and incredibly short commute times compared to other metro areas. Kiplinger’s listed OKC as #16 on its 25 Cheapest U.S. Cities to Live In in 2020, primarily due to its low cost of living. In 2022, OKC had an overall cost of living nearly 16% lower than the national average. Staff nurses and allied health professionals in Oklahoma City also benefit from housing costs that run more than 43% below the national average.


Downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma near a park

T-Town to locals, Tulsa is Oklahoma’s second-largest city, known for its art deco architecture and outdoor recreation at numerous parks like Mohawk Park, The Gathering Place and Guthrie Green River Parks, right on the banks of the Arkansas River. Tulsa is a modern metro area with welcoming hospitality and a distinct culture. It offers a fabulous array of cultural amenities from the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, which houses four theaters and the acclaimed Tulsa Symphony Orchestra, Tulsa Ballet and Tulsa Opera, to the Philbrook Museum of Art and Gilcrease Museum. Tulsa nurses and allied health workers can also tour the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame or catch a concert at the BOK Center or historic Cain’s Ballroom, a local favorite since 1924.

Kiplinger posted Tulsa at #12 on its 2020 list of 25 Cheapest U.S. Cities to Live In. Although the city dropped to #24 in 2022, its cost of living is still nearly 18% lower than the national average. It also made another appearance on U.S. News & World Report’s 2022-2023 list of 150 Best Places to Live in the U.S. Housing costs in the mid-sized city are 48% below the national average.


Edmond/Arcadia, Oklahoma

Located just north of Oklahoma City, Edmond is part of the OKC metro area and offers a high overall quality of life and slightly lower cost of living than the national average. It boasts the lowest crime rates compared to similar-sized cities statewide, 23 city parks, a delightful public art scene, one-of-a-kind boutiques and antique shops and an ice-skating arena. Other notable attractions include Festival Market Place, a vibrant open-air venue for community gatherings, and the Blues and Jazz Club, which features live blues and jazz, soul food and a relaxing atmosphere. Registered nurses and allied health professionals find numerous single and multi-family housing options with more than 250 neighborhoods and about 35 apartment complexes with varying price points.


Muskogee, Oklahoma Downtown

Located just south of Tulsa, Muskogee traces its roots back to 1817, so Native American heritage and military history flourish here. You can tour the Five Civilized Tribes Museum and a World War II submarine at the U.S.S. Batfish & War Memorial Park. Other famous attractions include the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, where they hold yearly induction ceremonies and concerts, and the Castle of Muskogee, with its one-of-a-kind annual events. 

However, what really puts this city on the map is its ultra-low cost of living, which is 31% less than the national average and nearly 18% lower than the state average. Kiplinger’s named Muskogee #1 on its 12 Cheapest Small Towns in America list of 2022. Nurses in Muskogee also benefit from housing costs that are more than 78% lower than the national average.

Popular Oklahoma Attractions

Blue Whale Roadside Attraction
Photo Credit: TD McNiel Photography

Oklahoma offers an amazing array of things to do, many of which are low-cost or even free. The state is home to the largest drivable stretch of Route 66 in the nation, which provides a nostalgic cruise filled with historic places and quirky roadside stops like a giant blue whale. Oklahoma also has 32 state parks, eight of which don’t require the purchase of a pass to enter. You can purchase a low-cost annual pass that’s good for the 24 parks charging an entry fee. Two notable Oklahoma parks are Keystone State Park in Sand Springs and Robber’s Cave State Park, a former hideout for outlaws Jesse James and Belle Starr. The following are a few other top attractions in Oklahoma.

National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum: Founded in 1955, the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City is a premier institution of Western history, art and culture with an internationally renowned collection of art and artifacts of the American West.  

Animal Adventures: Oklahoma has top-rated zoos, an indoor aquarium with the world’s largest collection of bull sharks and other unique attractions for animal lovers to experience close encounters with creatures from around the world. Some top animal adventures include:

  • Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden opened in 1902 and now features 120 acres with innovative exhibits and over 1,800 animals in enclosures simulating their natural habitats. Fun activities include camel rides, animal feeding and wild encounters that let you get up close and personal with several species.
  • The Tulsa Zoo opened in 1928 and boasts 84 acres of exhibits featuring more than 3,000 animals spanning more than 400 species, including several rare and endangered animals. Located in Mohawk Park, nearly five miles of walkable pathways connect the animal habitats.
  • The Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks has eight exhibit galleries offering a glimpse into the amazing underwater world and the creatures that call it home. Have an encounter with a shark or sea turtle, or take a virtual reality tour. 
  • Arbuckle Wilderness Park in Davis is a premier drive-thru and walk-thru exotic animal park on over 200 acres featuring 100s of wild and rare animals. Most of the animals roam freely in habitats similar to their own, and you can see them all from the safety of your vehicle.

Great Salt Plains: Located in Jet, the Great Salt Plains is one of Oklahoma’s most unique State Parks, created from salt leftover from when an ocean previously covered the state during prehistoric ages. Visitors can dig for selenite crystals from April 1 to October 15, from sunrise to sunset, but the Park is only open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

Alabaster Caverns: Located in Freedom, Alabaster Caverns is one of the largest natural gypsum caves in the world and part of Oklahoma’s State Park system. Park staff offers daily tours on the hour, or you can try wild caving, also known as spelunking, in four caves maintained for this purpose.

Oklahoma’s Foodie Scene

Oklahoma BBQ

Oklahoma is noted for its family farms and ranches, so it’s no surprise that many favorite dishes include locally grown or raised ingredients. The state’s western and Native heritage also plays a role in some of its food choices. Foodies won’t want to miss iconic meals featuring chicken-fried steak, fried onion burgers, Indian tacos and Oklahoma’s unique BBQ. Fried okra, corn on the cob, black-eyed peas, squash and cornbread are popular side dishes, and you can top your meal off with a big hunk of pecan pie, fluffy strawberry shortcake or fresh watermelon. Wash it all down with your favorite brew or craft brew from one of the many popular local breweries or a cold glass of iced tea.

Getting Around the Sooner State

Public transportation services are available in urban areas and many rural areas also provide some sort of service. Oklahoma Works, the State’s workforce development program, provides detailed information on public transportation services, including the following:

  • EMBARK serves much of the OKC metro area with many popular routes running about every 30 minutes on weekdays and every 60 minutes on weekends. All EMBARK Fixed-Route Bus Passes are Universal Passes, so you can use them on EMBARK Buses and the OKC Streetcar.
  • Tulsa Transit operates within Tulsa city limits with fixed route bus service Monday through Saturday and flexible fixed route service on Sundays. Additional routes offer services to Jenks, Broken Arrow and Sand Springs.
  • Citylink Edmond provides free public transportation within the Edmond city limits using 10 Citylink buses equipped with bike racks and wheelchair tie-downs.
  • Muskogee County Public Transit Authority services Muskogee County and surrounding cities with rides Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For those needing air travel, Will Rogers World Airport is the largest airport in the state and located in Oklahoma City. Tulsa International Airport provides air travel from Tulsa.

No matter what type of nursing or allied health positions you’re looking for in Oklahoma, Vivian Health has 100s of jobs posted in fun-filled towns across the state. Create a universal profile to apply for multiple jobs simultaneously, easily connect with recruiters and get hired quicker and easier than ever before.

Moira K. McGhee

Moira K. McGhee is Vivian’s Senior Editor & All-Around Wordsmith. As part of the Vivian Health team, she strives to help support the empowerment of nurses and other healthcare professionals in their pursuits to find top-notch travel, staff, local contract and per diem positions faster and easier than ever.

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