GUTHRIE, Oklahoma – Jody Arhnsbrak has progressed from being one of the first practical nursing graduates at the Meridian Technology Center to one of the first Flex Learning Lab teachers on the school’s new south campus.
The Flex Learning Labs provide on-demand training on Bloodborne Pathogens, Certified Medication Assistants, Clinical Medical Assistants, Home Health Assistants, Medication Administration Technicians, Medication Administration Technicians Updates, and Vital Signs. The labs offer both face-to-face and online learning. Labs are available on both the south campus in Guthrie and the main campus in Stillwater. And as the name suggests, flexibility is key.
This framework was an important element in Arhnsbrak’s return to Meridian’s technology program.
When the Guthrie native graduated in 1976, she began working nights at Guthrie Hospital as a medical-surgical nurse. About a year later, she helped move the patients to the new location. From there she moved into surgery, where she would spend the next 35+ years. In addition to her full-time employment, Arhnsbrak earned her associate’s degree from Oklahoma State University’s Oklahoma City campus and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Langston University.
After leaving the hospital, Arhnsbrak devoted himself to other aspects of healthcare, working as an operating room manager, an outpatient care manager and a hospital nurse. She also served as a wellness administrator with Guthrie Job Corps, a registered nurse with Companion Healthcare, and then eventually returned to the hospital where she worked as the facility’s performance improvement and emergency manager. She took early retirement in February 2020 and has since been busy building a life outside of healthcare. She has traveled the world, become a master gardener and pursued pottery and stained glass as hobbies.
Arhnsbrak is quick to tell you that she loves the life she’s carved out for herself in retirement. She is busy when she wants and only fills her calendar with what she wants.
“When this position opened up, I wasn’t looking for a job,” she said. “A friend told me about it, and then I spoke to the South Campus staff about the details. It’s not a traditional job and doesn’t have traditional hours. The flexible working hours appealed to me because I was able to do everything that I grew fond of even when I was retired.”
As a lifelong learner, Arhnsbrak enjoys helping others advance their careers.
“I have a lot of experience to offer and I honestly love teaching. It helps me to keep my finger on the pulse of the profession. Also, you never stop learning in this industry,” she explained.
Arhnsbrak is one of three nurses who lead the South Campus Flex Lab. She, along with her colleagues Robin Channel and Lauren Colorio, provides an environment where students can earn key industry certifications based on their unique schedules.
“It works well for our students,” she explains. “Most of them have full-time jobs and want to learn new skills to advance their careers. More responsibility means more money.”
Flex Learning offers options for healthcare practitioners
Flex Learning Labs provide a diverse learning environment where students learn essential theory and instructional skills through an online curriculum.
“Students have access to online curriculum, classrooms, computers and instructional support at a time that is convenient for them,” said Rena Hines, Meridian director of adult education and development.
Over the past 14 months, more than 450 students have used the school’s Flex Learning Labs. Several health professions such as Careers such as nursing assistants and home care assistants allow students to earn certifications and then quickly enter the workforce.
“When they’re ready for a demonstration of their skills in the lab, they make an appointment to meet an instructor in person. They have time to practice their new skills and when they are ready for the competency test, they make an appointment with the instructor for a skills review,” Hines added.
For students, this framework offers the opportunity to balance work, home and education, and often career advancement. Flexibility was a key factor for Amy Willhoite, who takes the Medication Administration Technician courses.
Willhoite volunteers at a local private facility for independent seniors and takes courses to ensure she meets the needs of the industry. She volunteers during the day and attends classes in smaller chunks based on her availability. On the other hand, their classmates participate for longer periods of time.
“If this program wasn’t flexible, I wouldn’t be able to complete this training and earn this certification,” she explained. “It would have been a deal breaker because my priority is my residents.”
The Flex Learning Lab on the South Campus in Guthrie is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9am to 9pm. The lab on the main Stillwater campus is available Monday through Thursday from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. To learn more about the courses offered in this format, visit meridiantech.edu/flexlearninglab.
The Meridian Technology Center has been an engine of economic development since 1975. With a mission to educate, enrich life and secure the economic future, Meridian provides full-time career training programs, short courses, human resource and business development support and entrepreneurial support to residents of the school districts of Agra, Carney, Glencoe, Guthrie, Morrison, Mulhall-Orlando, Pawnee, Perkins-Tryon, Perry and Stillwater. The school has campuses in Stillwater and Guthrie. Meridian is one of 29 schools within Oklahoma’s CareerTech system.
For more information or to register, visit meridiantech.edu or contact a careers advisor at (405) 377-3333 or toll-free at (888) 607-2509.