ATU-Ozark Faculty Spotlight Ester Leonard

Ester Leonard is a nurse. Ester Leonard is a teacher. Ester Leonard changes lives.

As the Program Chair of the Practical Nursing program at Arkansas Tech University-Ozark Campus, Ester views her position as more than a job. It is a way of life.

 She began teaching at ATU- Ozark Campus in Ozark, Arkansas as a practical nursing instructor in 2004 after being in the field for over 20 years working at various hospitals and institutions in the River Valley.

“Since I was young, I wanted to be a nurse,” Ester recalls. However, it was ten years after graduating high school when Ester started pursuing her dream of working in the medical field. When she decided it was time to pursue her dream, she attended ATU-Ozark, formally known as Arkansas Valley Technical Institute. She graduated in 1985 and truly attributed her success as a nurse to her professors in school.

Now, she is able to do the same for her students.  The Practical Nursing program of ATU-Ozark Campus integrates theory with clinical practice. Theoretical content is based on the concept of holism in which the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual well-being is considered. Clinical experiences are obtained in the healthcare service areas including adult health, maternal-child, mental health, geriatrics, and pediatrics. Ester has been a vital part of building the program to one of the leading educational nursing destinations in the state.

Every year, Ester sees strong students walk through the doors of the Health Science building eager to learn nursing skills.

“We have young students right out of high school and students who have been out of school for a while. We even gain students who are changing professions. Our nursing program is so diverse and each student brings their own unique perspective to the classroom.”

The Nursing program only admits approximately 20 students per semester, making the program an elite atmosphere, made up of some of the future’s industry leaders.

Ester guides her students through a rigorous program preparing them to graduate in one of three ways which include a Certificate of Proficiency in Practical Nursing (7 hours), Technical Certificate in Practical Nursing (48 hours), and an Associates Degree in Practical Nursing (63 hours). After graduating, students are able to walk into real-world positions with confidence and the knowledge to begin a successful career. Students also have the option to follow in Ester’s footsteps and ultimately receive a Bachelors and Masters degree in Nursing.

“Our students work in real-world environments in the River Valley area throughout their education at ATU-Ozark. It helps them have realistic expectations of the workforce, connect with fellow nurses in their field, and ultimately help them gain employment after graduating our program,” Ester explained.

Ester’s leadership and innovating nature are some of the countless reasons why the Practical Nursing program at ATU-Ozark is one of the best in the business.

To learn more about the Practical Nursing program or any other ATU-Ozark program visit or call Student Services at (479)-667-2117.