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Oklahoma…where the wind blows? We’d rather think of Oklahoma how our OK member, Alison Williams, does: the best of both worlds.

Oklahoma joined 3RNet in 2007, when their community health center sites went from 11 locations to 60. The Oklahoma Primary Care Association (OKPCA), Alison’s employer, needed somewhere to promote job openings, and 3RNet was a perfect fit, similar to how Alison would describe her state.

“People think of Oklahoma as flat, nothing, but it’s such a beautiful state. We have mountains, plains, and a lot to offer for people outside of work. In southern Oklahoma, you’re two hours away from a major metro area: Dallas.  We also have an NBA basketball team and most of our locations are within two hours of a major city,” Alison said.

Oklahoma has much to offer for professionals, but also has many challenging opportunities for health care providers. 

“There’s a great need in Oklahoma. A lot of people I talk to who moved to Oklahoma City to complete medical school, I always tell them: if you ever think about moving back to a rural area, it’s one of the best things you can do for society,” Alison said. 

“Not only is the need greater, but I work hard to educate future physicians and other providers that the quality of life is better! Providers are able to see how much they are appreciated when they’re in a small community. I’ve never seen people more grateful than in a rural community. And, physicians get to learn from the best. So many rural physicians have a wealth of experience under their belt and a young physician can learn the ‘tricks and trades’ from an expert,” Alison said.

Alison is a great advocate for her state for many great reasons. In her experience as the workforce and communication manager for the Oklahoma Primary Care Association, Alison has got to see first-hand amazing stories of how providers make a difference in rural communities across Oklahoma. 

Two stories about she shared with us were too good not to include:

Story one: Several years ago OKPCA had just found funding for a dental program through a grant. Because of this funding, they were able to post a job to 3RNet for an Oklahoma community that had never had a dentist before. The next day after posting the job opportunity, Alison had a call from a dentist! Two weeks later the dentist was employed at the health center, where he was working in a position that allowed him to provide care to every single person in his new community! He’s still there today and loves the job he was able to find through Alison and 3RNet.

Story two: One community had struggled with keeping providers – they would stay a bit but move on for one reason or another. Through 3RNet, a nurse practitioner found a job in this community that they loved. After two years or so, Alison was in the community and happened to start up a conversation with an elderly woman. This 80-year-old was so thankful to have a female provider in her community, but shared with Alison the difference it truly makes to have access to health care where you live. The woman shared that prior to the nurse practitioner being hired locally, she had to drive over 60 miles to the next nearest town for a medical appointment. She could now simply drive down the street. It wasn’t the time saving that meant so much; it was that she could now afford to go to the clinic when she needed. She no longer had to worry about the expense of traveling so far.

Like we said, not only are Alison and the OKPCA great advocates for Oklahoma, but they’ve got some dedicated, wonderful providers who get to practice what they love in a way that contributes more to the communities they work in than they probably realize!

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