Nursing the World Over Helping others is in recent grad’s blood

By Wes McKinzie (98)

Reagan Hightower graduated from Oklahoma Christian University in 2011 and became an emergency room nurse at Mercy Hospital. But she's serving beyond the ER, taking trips to Rwanda and the Philippines to help with healthcare for people in need. www.oc.edu/nursing

I wouldn’t say you go to work with your cape on to save the world. It’s something I’ve chosen to do and I love that I’ve chosen to do it. Reagan Hightower (11)

Reagan Hightower is one of the growing number of OC alumni who are addressing the nursing shortage in the United States and abroad.

For this 2011 grad, her work as an emergency room nurse at Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City is a labor of love. 

But she isn’t content to punch the clock, put in her time, and provide medical care for the patients who come through Mercy’s ER.

  • Reagan meets Rwandan president 
Paul Kagame during Mercy’s survey trip to Rwanda.
Reagan meets Rwandan president Paul Kagame during Mercy’s survey trip to Rwanda.

Just within the past year, she’s helped with a mobile clinic after last May’s deadly tornadoes in Oklahoma, traveled to Rwanda with a group from Mercy to assess medical needs at the hospitals there, and spent vacation time helping survivors of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

“It’s been a passion of mine from the beginning,” she said. “The driving force is that I’m able to use my skills and use the knowledge I’ve been blessed with to go places with people that are seeking medical care who wouldn’t normally get it. I’m able to help be part of a team that can provide it.”

During their two weeks in the Philippines, Reagan and the other medical missionaries – including another OC grad, Erin Downing (11) – traveled back and forth to different cities and provinces, set up a mobile clinic, and spent six to 10 hours per day treating typhoon injuries and giving tetanus shots or medication to those who have never had medical care.

  • Reagan Hightower during her mission trip to the Philippines.
Reagan Hightower during her mission trip to the Philippines.

“They already don’t have a lot of material things, and then they lost everything they had. Some people lost friends. Some people lost family,” Reagan said. “But it was very encouraging to talk to the people there. They weren’t angry at their situation. They were so happy for the help they were receiving. They were turning to God for support.”

Reagan was a 19-year-old OC student when she went on her first mission trip to Tanzania. 

More mission trips followed, including OC’s HonduraServe program, which provides overseas field experience to nursing majors.

“HonduraServe is a unique adventure. You’re able to really put to work what they’ve been teaching you in class all year,” Reagan said. “As a student, I never imagined I’d be able to go overseas and give medical care. It was a neat experience to go see how a different country deals with healthcare. We were able to study their healthcare system as well.”

  • Reagan at Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City.
Reagan at Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City.

That experience served Reagan well last year on Mercy’s survey trip to Rwanda. At the Rwandan government’s request, the team evaluated four hospitals in Kigali and assessed what they were doing well and what could be improved. 

“I was really honored to be part of that opportunity,” she said. “I felt like we were really able to make a difference while we were there. It’s rewarding to take two different cultures and merge them together to help people.”

Helping others is in Reagan’s blood. Whether she’s facing medical challenges in a third-world country or dealing with the tension and trauma of a metro emergency room, Reagan feels blessed to serve.

“I wouldn’t say that it’s something where you go to work with your cape on and you’re going to save the world. It’s something I’ve chosen to do and I love that I’ve chosen to do it,” Reagan said. “OC prepared me very well. The opportunities I’ve had as a result of being an OC grad are amazing. And I love being a nurse.”

 



Summer 2014

View more stories from the Summer 2014 issue of Vision magazine.