Rudy Sparr, 59, has spent the last four years of his 20-year-nursing career at St. Anthony Healthplex in Midwest City.

by Mike Lee – Writer

Rudy Sparr, RN, BSN has worked with his hands most of his 59 years on this earth.
As he kid he worked in fast food and then went on to the lumber yard.
He finally latched on to his first real career as a machinist, working in Tulsa, Broken Arrow and Port of Catoosa.
Suffice it to say, bedside nursing never was on his radar screen.
But all that changed some 20 years ago when he says God started making things a lot clearer. So it’s no surprise that he eventually ended up at St. Anthony.
Sparr traces his nursing career back to 1990. He accepted a calling to become a missionary during a conference in Holland and headed out to Africa.
“The first thing I thought was I needed to become a nurse,” he said. “I went to a counselor and planned my whole nursing career out on paper. Four years later I graduated as a nurse.”
His ADN came from Tulsa Junior College then he earned his bachelor’s three years ago at Oklahoma Wesleyan through one-day-a-week satellite classes at Midwest City.
It’s no surprise that Sparr ended up at St. Anthony.
He’s worked at St. Anthony Healthplex East, I-40 and Douglas, since it opened a few years ago.
“I like their mission statement and I also like the way they do nursing. I think that’s the way nursing needs to be done,” Sparr said.
Through exceptional healthcare the healing hand of Jesus is revealed – it’s more than just a motto for Sparr.
“I care for people … I treat them like family,” Sparr said. “We might be talking about medical, physical or fishing or gardening.”
Sparr has been a nurse for 20 years after growing up as a military brat.
He was in Japan when he was two, something he credits with fostering both a love for and an ability to pick up new languages.
Sparr split his high school years between Coronado High School in California and George Dewey High School in the republic of the Philippines.
“It gave me an appreciation for all types of people and cultures,” Sparr said. “Nothing can surprise me. I don’t care what people look like, talk like or even smell like.”
“I just like to treat them like family because I think we all are family.”
The ER at St. Anthony East is where Sparr now practices his nursing. It’s a close-knit environment.
“We all work together,” he said. “We help each other when we’re lacking in one area.”
The first 10 years of Sparr’s nursing career were spent in mental health. The last 10 have been spread among the floor, newborn, cath lab and the ER.
“So far I still like mental health and emergency nursing,” he said. “You can use the skills in both areas. I have a pretty calm demeanor and people get to screaming and yelling … and I just talk to them and be calm and it seems to work.”
Sparr met his Okie-from-Muskogee wife in 1980, married her and two daughters were the result. One grandson has come along so far.
For Sparr, he plans on nursing for the better part of the next 10 years and hopes that will be long enough to finish paying for his nursing degree.
He plans on doing a lot more fishing during that time, too.
The avid hunter says his nursing schedule allows him plenty of outdoors time. But all of that will come after Oct. 5 when he and his wife celebrate 35 years of marriage.
“We plan on going to Vegas for our anniversary,” he said.
If you talked to Sparr’s coworkers they’ll tell you nothing really gets Sparr riled up.
“I pretty much have one speed but if someone’s not breathing I can get after it,” he said. “I’m pretty steady. I know it’s a young man’s game but I can still do it.”
And he still plans on fulfilling his mission.
The staff nurse is working his way through his third passport. He’s been to Botswana, Ukraine, Bolivia, South America, Mexico and has been offered many other sites that just weren’t right fits at the time.
“When I go to work every day it’s like going to the mission field,” he said. “Everybody I come into contact with is my neighbor.”
And he’s finally able to use those healing hands for their intended purpose.