SHAWNEE, Okla. (AP) — One of the best compliments a university can receive is when its alumni want to return to their alma mater to teach.

That's a reality for Oklahoma Baptist University's Master of Science in Nursing program.

"I believe the graduate nursing education I received at OBU prepared me well to take on my first full-time faculty role at OBU in the College of Nursing," said Megan Smith, assistant professor of nursing at OBU. "The program itself laid a great foundation and I believe made my transition from clinical practice into academia much easier than if had I gone through a different program."

Before returning to teach at OBU, Smith was the pediatric nurse educator at The Children's Hospital in Oklahoma City, the Oklahoman reported .

"During that time, I helped launch the Pediatric Nurse Residency Program, and I really enjoyed getting to further educate and assist new graduate RNs as they transitioned into their professional roles as nurses," Smith said. "It made me realize how much I enjoyed working with new nurses, teaching them in the classroom and laboratory settings. I wanted to be a part of laying a solid foundation for those nursing students to strengthen their transition into professional practice after graduation."

Two years later she found herself on the faculty at OBU mentoring students and will begin a Doctorate in Education in Nursing Education at Western Connecticut State University this fall.

"Most students enter not knowing much about nursing, but they go through an incredible transformation during their time at OBU, and, specifically, in the nursing program their last couple of years," she said. "As an educator, I get to be a part of that growth and transformation, and I love to see the final product. I love being a part of sending out competent, high-quality nurses all over the world to make a difference in people's lives for the ultimate purpose of glorifying God with their work as nurses."

Jennifer Sharma, also an assistant professor of nursing at OBU, has been teaching full time at OBU since 2016.

"I have loved every area of nursing I have worked in, but my career highlight and honor is being back on Bison Hill as a faculty member," she said. "I never dreamed I would be here, but God's vision is much larger than my own."

Sharma, who is currently working on her Doctor of Nursing Practice at Oklahoma University Health Science Center, said OBU gave her the tools to succeed.

"I learned the importance of gaining knowledge, pursuing learning always and incorporating both into patient-centered, holistic care," she said.

When the opportunity to return as a faculty member opened she jumped on it.

"A door opened at OBU and I knew that it was God-opened for me," she said. "I love the students, getting to know them and watching their journeys to becoming nurses. It is an honor and privilege to share with them the same educational excellence I received here during my OBU experience in the College of Nursing."

One of the perks of teaching at OBU is that the university has great nursing facilities.

"I am very proud of Stavros Hall," Sharma said. "It is such an amazing facility."

The 32,000-square-foot facility was dedicated in 2016 and is designed to provide cutting-edge nursing education for both undergraduate and graduate-level students.

Stavros Hall includes five classrooms, a 109-seat lecture hall and a computer lab, as well as spaces for students to study, meet and interact with faculty. The facility features six high-fidelity skills simulation labs, a medium skills lab, a health assessment skills lab, and a home health and bathing training room, totaling 24 beds. The high-tech simulation labs are equipped with the industry's most advanced medical simulation solutions.

"I am extremely proud of the quality of our simulation program," Smith said. "With our new facilities came a state-of-the-art simulation suite, and we are using it to improve our students' clinical judgment and clinical reasoning skills. We have wonderful nursing faculty who are committed to professional growth and development, especially related to simulation. We are continuing to learn and grow and improve the simulation experiences we offer our students."

The university is aiming to have an accredited simulation program in the next few years.

The Graduate College of Oklahoma Baptist University, under which the graduate nursing program operates, believes in enhancing the mission of the university by providing opportunities for advanced studies in nursing that equip graduates to follow Christ's example in their career.

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Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com