Tag: school of nursing and health professions

Amber Bradford-Nealy headshot

A New Generation of Healthcare Leaders Emerge from the Soil of Public Education

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OU Health Appoints Amber Nealy as Its First African American Chief Nursing Officer

by Deena V. Thomas, OKCPS Retired Educator and member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Educational roots matter.

A child’s first teachers are their parents and grandparents, absorbing deep-rooted instruction in the home, followed by the fundamental academics of teaching and learning, cultivated and nurtured in common education. Lastly, the preparation process to enter the workforce is taught and mentored during the journey toward post-secondary educational attainment.

These pathways led Amber Bradford-Nealy to walk directly into executive nursing leadership, which she says is her God-given purpose.

Her purpose and His plan came to fruition. The University of Oklahoma (OU) Health named Amber Nealy, MSN, R.N., NE-BC, as the inaugural Chief Nursing Officer of Ambulatory and Cancer Services (CNO).

Nealy is the first black to hold this position of CNO at OU Health, earmarking a significant milestone in Black History within the Sooner State.

“In a quote for the organization, I was asked about diversity why it mattered to me, and why does it make a difference. Why does it matter whether or not we have a diverse workforce? I think it matters because Oklahoma City’s Eastside and Spencer community students and the next generation need to see people who look like them in places and spaces where they aspire to be. It is good to know they may have a similar background or upbringing as they have had, so then it lets them know what they aspire to be is not so far off,” Nealy said.

Since December 2020, Nealy served as Director of Nursing at OU Health Stephenson Cancer Center, infusing her knowledge, experience, and relationships, which propelled her into the CNO role.

Nealy has been with OU Health since 2008, starting as a Nurse Partner in the inpatient Adult Medicine Specialty Unit, where she worked as a Clinical RN, Clinical Supervisor, and Clinical Manager. Additionally, Nealy held the position of the Director of Adult Endoscopy.

Nealy has served as the Chair of the Nursing Ancillary and Advisory Council for Epic Implementation, as well as a vast array of other committees. She is a certified Nurse Executive by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Nealy was first introduced to the health field at the Oklahoma University Health Science Center (OUHSC) when she was a junior at Oklahoma City Public Schools (OKCPS) Northeast Academy of Health Sciences and Engineering.

“We were the first graduating class of Northeast Academy of Health Sciences and Engineering, completing grades sixth through 12, and many of us referred to the academy as a social experiment of our time,” she laughs. “I remember my teacher, Mrs. Bessie Bryant, bringing us to OUHSC’s student union to attend class a few days a week. I had many great experiences while going through the OUHSC program, which opened up several healthcare opportunities right before my eyes,” Nealy said.

OKCPS Superintendent, Dr. Sean McDaniel heads up the state’s largest school district. He emphasized the most important key driving force is the collective relationship building that takes place in every school.

“Our building leaders, teachers, and staff know our students by name and by need and provide encouragement and counsel, while also connecting them to the resources that will help them on their journey to post-secondary success, whatever that may look like for each student. For students who have the desire to attend college, career tech, enter the workplace, or head to the military, it is imperative that the district offers a variety of resources and opportunities for them to be successful after graduation,” McDaniel said.

After high school graduation, Nealy had planned to attend a community college and seek a nursing degree, which would have been free. Instead, she went in a different direction and headed north to Langston University (LU). She qualified for the full-ride Edwin P. McCabe scholarship, which is awarded to first-time freshmen entering college after high school graduation.

“LU found me! Everything was paid for, my books, my food, my fees, and my room and board. I did not have to come out of pocket for anything, which was so comforting for me. Langston University’s nursing program was competitive and offered a challenging curriculum,” Nealy said.

LU’s interim President, Dr. Ruth Ray Jackson stands firm, saying its School of Nursing and Health Professions is shaped intentionally to exceed the nation’s nursing standards.

“Langston University’s nursing program goes beyond these fundamentals by integrating content that addresses healthcare disparities and seeks to improve health outcomes in underserved populations. Additionally, our program also places a strong emphasis on leadership development, preparing graduates to assume leadership and advocacy roles within a variety of healthcare settings,” Jackson said.

Dr. Teressa Hunter, LU’s Dean of the School of Nursing and Health Professions, says it is the school’s mission that drives the rigor.

“Langston University’s nursing curriculum is purposefully designed to be rigorous to support our students, so they are equipped to navigate clinical practice and leadership roles with a focus on the best outcomes. It is crucial to teach our students that when faced with challenges, they need to know how to respond positively, and when challenges come, rewards often follow,” Hunter said.

LU Director of Alumni, Rachel Goff-Belmon, and Nealy have four common bonds. The two are LU graduates, McCabe scholars, members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., (DST), and were classmates during their undergraduate years.

“I served as the President of the Beta Upsilon Chapter of DST for several years in college. This position allowed me to grow my supervisory skills and experience in stewarding others,” Nealy said.

“Soror Nealy’s administration style is to lead by example. She demonstrated this by keeping the chapter in compliance with her organizational skills. She orchestrated the chapter’s efforts to implement programs that align with the sorority’s Five-Point Programmatic Thrust and modeled her commitment to academic excellence through her high graduate point average (GPA),” Belmon said.

Belmon stressed Nealy rendered wholehearted ‘service’ by assisting fellow nursing students while demonstrating a deep understanding of the importance of diversity in the nursing field.

Nealy says OU Health supported her desire to continue as a lifelong learner.

“OU Health as an organization has put in place many programs to pursue higher education and advanced training or advanced certification, which benefit the working adult,” she said.

Nealy completed a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2009, graduating Magna Summa Laude with, a 3.50 GPA. She earned a Master of Science in Nursing, with a focus on nursing management and leadership, made available by OU Health’s tuition reimbursement program. Currently, Nealy is working on her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), a degree-accelerated program, supported by OU Health partnership in collaboration with the OU College of Nursing, and the Fran and Earl Ziegler College of Nursing. Her DNP is a terminal degree, which is scheduled to be conferred in May 2025.

“As an OU Health employee, the program pays for my tuition, books, and fees. Each step has afforded me something different. In terms of the MSN level, I learned a lot about leadership styles and ways of communicating with your team. At the DNP level, we look at problem system-level issues and try to understand how we can improve the organization as a whole. OU Health has invested in me as an individual employee,” Nealy said.

Nealy’s family planted the first seeds into her future long before her birth. Those first seeds were germinated, watered, and fertilized by her parents, as well as the other public educational institutions. Now, those seeds have sprouted and bore fruit to reveal her journey and countless outcomes that are more far-reaching than one can calculate in dollars and cents – Priceless.

However, Nealy says it is the humble, sacrificial contributions of her grandparents. Both grandparents were farmers, the Watts from the all-black township of Boley, and the Bradfords from the small rural town of Mason. They gave all that they had in the selling of land and livestock that kept her grounded.

“My father, the second youngest of 10 children, tells stories of when he was a child and how there was not enough food to eat. His mother would go without eating, so her children would not go hungry. My parents always instilled in us kids that they wanted us to be better and go further than what they had done. I believe that part of my recognition of their humble beginnings is to go further because they have afforded me those opportunities. I can stand on their shoulders,” she said.

Amber Nealy is reaping the harvest, having earned a seat at the bountiful table, where healthcare decisions and policies are shaped and governed.

“From where I sit, I want to be a light,” Nealy said.

LANGSTON UNIVERSITY ANNOUNCES ONLINE RN TO BSN PROGRAM

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by Ellie Melero, Media Relations Specialist

LANGSTON, Okla. – Langston University’s School of Nursing and Health Professions is pleased to announce one of its hallmark programs will be available online starting this spring.

The new online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program is available to registered nurses (RN’s) looking to further their careers in nursing. The program can be completed in 9 or 12 months, depending on the student’s preferred class schedule.
For more than 40 years, Langston University has been home to one of the best accredited nursing programs in Oklahoma. Under the direction of Dr. Teressa Hunter, the dean of the School of Nursing and Health Professions, the program has continued to grow.

The online BSN degree is available to students admitted to the Langston University main campus, the Langston University Tulsa campus or the Langston University Ardmore site.

The Langston University Tulsa campus is now accepting applications for the Spring 2024 semester. The early admission deadline is Oct. 16.

For more information about the online RN to BSN program, please contact a Langston University Nursing advisor at one of the three sites:

Langston/ Main Campus: 405-466-3415
Tulsa Campus: 918-877-8123
Ardmore Site: 580-319-0317

Langston University 2023 White House HBCU Scholars graphic

2 LANGSTON UNIVERSITY STUDENTS NAMED 2023 WHITE HOUSE HBCU SCHOLARS

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by Ellie Melero, Media Relations Specialist

Langston, Okla. – Two Langston University students have been named 2023 White House HBCU Scholars, marking the first time two Langston students have received the honor in one academic year.

The White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity through Historically Black Colleges and Universities announced its 2023 HBCU Scholars on July 20, and Langston’s Lovette Mba and Charina Lancaster were among the 102 undergraduate, graduate and professional students to receive the honor.

“We are very excited that Lovette and Charina have been selected to represent Langston University as 2023 White House Initiatives on HBCU Scholars,” said Dr. Alonzo Peterson, the Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs. “These two students represent some of the best and brightest students here at the university. They are not only great students but render great service to the Langston University community.”

Since 2014, the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities has recognized exceptional HBCU students who have excelled in the areas of academic achievement, civic and campus engagement and entrepreneurial ethos.

Mba and Lancaster are the seventh and eighth Langston students to be recognized as White House HBCU Scholars since the program’s inception.

“I am honored to be chosen as a 2023 White House Initiative on HBCUs Scholar,” said Lancaster, a 2023 nursing graduate. “Being chosen is an exciting opportunity and I am proud to be a scholar representing Langston University, the only HBCU in the state of Oklahoma. Langston University has provided me with a great education, a wide range of opportunities, a powerful network providing many connections on campus within and outside of my major of nursing.”

This year’s cohort is the largest ever and includes students from 70 HBCU’s throughout the country.

White House HBCU Scholars will serve as ambassadors for the White House Initiative on HBCUs, the U.S. Department of Education and their respective academic institutions for the academic year. They will receive several networking and professional development opportunities throughout the year, including at the 2023 HBCU Week National Conference from Sept. 24-28.

“We know that they will take full advantage of opportunities to engage the other scholars, initiative staff, and industry partners on questions of innovation, leadership, and personal and professional development,” Dr. Peterson said. “Most importantly, we want Lovette and Charina to bring those experiences back to Langston University and share them with other students. This is a great opportunity for Lovette and Charina to help other Langston Lions with the knowledge they gain from the conference and the monthly master classes they will attend.”

Mba, a senior business management major, said she applied to the program because it aligns with her goals of community revitalization and economic development, and she’s excited to see what she will learn and what she can bring back to the Langston community.

“It is a great way to network with professionals in the industry I desire to work in and learn more about my passion for economic development on the national level,” Mba said. “I’m ecstatic to represent Langston University as a White House HBCU Scholar, and I cannot wait to experience all the new opportunities that come with the honor.”

Likewise, Lancaster said she’s excited to share her experiences and help the Langston community grow.

“I hope that by being chosen as a 2023 HBCU Scholar that I can help provide future high school graduates from New Mexico with information about Langston University and share my experience with them,” Lancaster said.

Porsha Richardson headshot

A DREAM FULFILLED: A LANGSTON UNIVERSITY NURSING GRADUATE’S JOURNEY

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Jet Turner, Langston University Office of Public Relations

A DREAM IS FOUND

Porsha Richardson had to be strong for her granny.

At 6 years old, going to Granny’s house after school was the norm. But when Porsha eagerly opened the door, she did not see Granny on the couch or in the kitchen; instead, Porsha heard her call from the bedroom.

Even though she knew Granny was sick, Porsha could not help but feel thrilled to be back in the bedroom with her. Porsha learned how to play Solitaire and Go-Fish in the room-filling king-sized bed Granny would be resting in. Granny’s bright smile always shined in her memories.

But as she walked into the bedroom, Porsha did not see card games strewn across the bed. Granny was not smiling.

“Come here Porsha, I need your help,” Granny said.

Granny was laying toward the foot of the bed. One leg dangling off the footboard, the other wrapped in a bandage.

“I need you to be strong for me, Porsha,” Granny said. “I need you to put medication on my new scar.”

Granny’s battle with diabetes lead to her having half her leg amputated.

Porsha grabbed the ointment and began to remove Granny’s bandage as instructed. As the cloth fell the fresh stitching revealed itself, traversing Granny’s new leg like train tracks. Porcha looked into the eyes of her Granny, and they pleaded for reassurance. Any apprehension Porsha felt at the time melted away. She knew she could not show Granny the fear that almost overcame her.

Porsha swallowed her final traces of dread and began applying the ointment to her Granny’s new wound.

After the ointment was applied and a bandage was wrapped neatly around the wound, Granny smiled at Porsha.

“You did a great job,” Granny said. “You should consider being a nurse one day.”

Porsha agreed.

A DREAM IS EARNED

When it came time for Porsha Richardson to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse, Langston University was the only choice that made sense. Not only is Richardson the daughter and younger sister of Langston University alumni, but the highly touted School of Nursing and Health Professions drew Richardson to Dear Langston.

As she first walked into her Fundamentals of Nursing class, Richardson knew she was home.

“I was super excited to finally get a chance to be a part of the program, and to go to a school that my father and older sister had also attended,” Richardson said. “My dad was super proud.”

But Richardson quickly found achieving her dream of becoming a nurse was not going to be easy.

Dr. Lynnie Skeen greeted Richardson at the door as she found her seat in the plain classroom. Later, she would begin taking classes with Dr. Teressa Hunter. These professors quickly became mentors to the young nursing major who, initially, only wanted to be a labor and delivery nurse.

“Soon I found out that this is work,” Richardson said. “This is real work. I was not expecting nursing to be hard for me. I was thinking it would be the easiest thing because I always loved it.

“So Dr. Hunter pushed me. She pushed me to be better. She pushed me to be great. She did not settle for just anything. You had to earn every point, and so I earned every point. To this day it means a lot to me that I earned that degree.”

Richardson earned her nursing degree from Langston University in 2005 and was ready for anything the profession could throw at her.

But it was Dr. Skeen who told Richardson to not only consider graduate school but convinced her to be hands-on in her studies and move to Georgia so Richardson could attend her graduate studies in-person.

“I just took Dr. Skeen’s advice,” Richardson said. “If it were not for her, I would not have applied to graduate school. She knew my strengths and continued to invest in me as a student. These are things that I have always admired about the nursing professors at Langston University. The ability to see each individual student as unique individuals who have strengths and abilities that even they themselves may not know of.”

Richardson earned her master’s degree in 2009, from Emory University, in Atlanta, GA.

A DREAM IS HANDED-DOWN

Richardson has owned her own medical practice since 2018. Located in Midwest City, Uptown Medical Center allows her to continue her dream of helping and nurturing patients. During the Fall 2022 semester, Richardson received a phone call from Dr. Hunter.

“Dr. Hunter said she needed a Women’s Health Instructor,” Richardson said. “I ask ‘when do I start?’”

Richardson has always had a heart for service. From nursing her Granny at 6 years old to her medical practice today, she knew it was time to give to the next generation of Langston University nurses.

When it was time to be an adjunct professor at Langston University, Richardson answered the call to teach Childbearing (Women’s Health) and Psychosocial Nursing.

And she never forgot the treatment she received at Langston University. Dear Langston instilled in Richardson and all its nursing majors an unmatched worth ethic that persists throughout their careers. Richardson knows any of her patients can be trusted in the hands of Langston University School of Nursing and Health Sciences graduates. Nursing at Langston is not an easy major, but it will prepare you for the real world.

“I heavily believe in the nursing program at Langston University, and the foundation on which it stands,” Richardson said. “It has changed the trajectory of my life, and so I owe this program a lot. My school needed me, so it was the least I could do to answer the call. My professors and school helped me so much, and I wanted to give that same help back.

“I am still that same nurse that helped my Granny at 6 years old. Taking care of people is what I do, and I love what I do. I am contributing to my community, and I am helping it not only with my medical practice, but by teaching our future nursing students too. I am proud to be a Langston graduate.”

LANGSTON UNIVERSITY-TULSA ALLIED HEALTH FACILITY GRAND OPENING

LANGSTON UNIVERSITY-TULSA ALLIED HEALTH FACILITY GRAND OPENING

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TULSA, Okla. – Langston University commemorated the opening of a state-of-the-art Allied Health Facility on its Tulsa Campus with a ribbon-cutting ceremony held Wednesday.

The 17,000-square-foot building, home to the Langston University School of Nursing and Health Professions in Tulsa, was built through a $16.25 million allotment from Vision Tulsa. The facility includes simulation labs with mannikins powered by artificial intelligence, spacious classrooms, a lecture hall, conference and meeting rooms, and department and administrative office spaces.

Dr. Kent J. Smith, Jr., President of Langston University, opened the program with remarks recounting the journey to create the new facility. In 2015, Langston University proposed the construction of the facility to Tulsa City Council for consideration and inclusion in Vision Tulsa. “At the time of our proposal, the pandemic was still unknown to us,” Smith said. “The construction of this facility could not have been more timely. Our new facility provides the very best healthcare education to students interested in pursuing a career in nursing and health professions.”

The Langston University – Tulsa Allied Health Facility was built with three objectives in mind: to enhance access to education in Tulsa, to meet the needs of the healthcare workforce, and to reduce health disparities in North Tulsa.
The grand opening event was well attended by Langston University students, faculty, staff, and alumni, as well as members of the Tulsa community. Mayor G.T. Bynum congratulated Langston University for opening a facility, which provides a direct positive impact on the Tulsa community. “The new Allied Health Facility on the Langston University Tulsa campus will help prepare students to fill a workforce need in the Tulsa area,” said Mayor G.T. Bynum. “Thank you to Tulsa voters for approving Vision Tulsa that made this $16.25 million economic development project possible.”

Several notable community members attended the event to celebrate the grand opening. Tulsa City Councilwoman Vanessa Hall-Harper addressed the attendees at the event, remarking on the importance of funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities like Langston University. Partners who were instrumental in completing the project such as Beck Design, Flintco Construction, and Oklahoma State University Long Range Facilities Planning, were also in attendance.

Dr. Dytisha Davis, Executive Director for the Langston University – Tulsa Campus, was recognized for her leadership in the project, for which planning began in 2018. Dr. Teressa Hunter, Dean of the School of Nursing and Health Professions at Langston University, recognized the faculty and students for their support of the new facility and shared her thoughts on the importance of the project. “This new facility paves the way for current and future healthcare providers,” said Hunter. “It is poised to fulfill the legacy of Langston University as the promise-keepers, trailblazers, and guardians of the high standard built by Langston University School of Nursing graduates.”

President Smith announced his intension to name the new facility after former Tulsa City Councilman Jack Henderson, pending final approval by the Board of Regents for the Oklahoma A & M Colleges. “It cannot be understated how important Jack Henderson was to the success of this project,” said Smith. “He is a true champion for our mission and he made this project possible.”

The program included a formal ribbon cutting followed by tours of the new facility led by Langston University Nursing students and faculty.