Hey! To be honest, my friends who obtained their degrees from WGU are still working the floor at the hospital, it seems they got their degree for the sake of having a degree. I kind of suspected the attitude of "it's cheap and flexible, why not." On the other hand, my friend who went to University of Utah is actually teaching as an adjunct faculty for BSN students while she still works the floor prn. She seems to really like teaching.
You are right, Utah is one of the lowest paying states for nurses, it's terrible :/. Cost of living is rather high compared to what they pay nurses, but it depends on where you live. Salt Lake County is probably the priciest, I'm sure nothing compared to California though!
. Your schedule depends on where you work. I knew a few nurses who worked at University of Utah Hospital and they were on variable schedules, switching back and forth from days to nights. However they are the largest hospital in Utah and one of the only trauma 1 centers in the state, so if you like that kind of environment it might be a good fit.
I worked for Intermountain Healthcare and actually had a really good experience. I felt like they valued their employees and I liked their approach to providing healthcare and being involved in the community. Intermountain has a bunch of hospitals along the Wasatch Front and in southern Utah, so you'd probably be able to find something no matter where you are. There are also several HCA hospitals if you have experience working with HCA.