by Bobby Anderson, Staff Writer
Only half-joking, Jodie Spradlin, RN, director of nurses at Heritage Assisted Living, says most of her big career decisions have come directly after searching the internet.
Nursing was actually Spradlin’s second career.
She was a teacher first, but when she became pregnant and had her first child she didn’t want to go back.
So, in the search for what would become her next career, she took an online job test.
The results: nursing or dental hygienist.
As luck would have it, a new nursing school had just opened close to home in Colorado.
“The doors just opened up for me to go to school there,” said Spradlin.
At the time, her and her husband were involved with LifeChurch, specializing in out-of-state campus development.
“We were done,” she said. “We had kept moving and our kids needed to stay somewhere.”
At age 37 Spradlin took her nursing boards just two weeks after graduation.
The day she passed she moved back to Oklahoma with her husband.
After seeing her son go to nine different schools and her daughter seven, the Spradlins settled down in Oklahoma City.
The cost of living was right. Nurses in Oklahoma make a decent wage.
“It just felt like home,” she said.
Her first job out of school was a critical care unit in downtown Oklahoma City.
“I just could never keep up that pace of critical care and balancing family life as a new nurse,” she said. “I should have never gone to critical care. I should have gone to a basic med-surg floor. I jumped in and they were very gracious.”
A little after a year on the job she went through the evaluation process.
“It just hit me as a reflection: I’m not a good fit here,” said Spradlin.
So she went home and Googled: “RN jobs for busy mom in Oklahoma.”
This time the field of home health care came up.
Her next nursing job would take her in the homes of her patients. She would be the eyes and the eyes of the provider.
“It was an amazing schedule for me and for my kids because they weren’t driving yet,” she said. “And it really helped me learn my skills on my own. I was in peoples’ homes and having to make the judgment calls and the call to the physician.”
But the driving begin to catch up with her. Purcell in the morning, Stillwater in the afternoon – the miles kept piling up.
So she decided to reach out and do agency work. She worked all the critical care units in the city for one health system.
This time she was ready.
“I finally had my skills sharpened and the pay as an agency nurse is amazing if you don’t have to have full-time,” she said.
She started filling in for DONs out on medical leave from assisted living facilities.
That’s when she ran into Curtis Aduddell
Aduddell became a nursing home administrator in 1993 in Texas. When the opportunity arose to move back to Oklahoma he jumped on it.
His brother and father approached him with a plan to open several assisted living facilities. The family built Heritage Assisted Living from the ground up and Aduddell has been at 9025 Northwest Expressway ever since.
For almost the last three years so has Spradlin.
“Again, it’s a flexible schedule,” Spradlin said of the appeal. “It’s privately owned and we’re not held to corporate.
“This is a mom and pop facility. He lets me work. If I want to work 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. at night he lets me. It’s flexible for my family.”
Spradlin learned the ins and outs of assisted living through the annual audits. The patient care, well she already had that.
“What energizes me is seeing a need and being able to meet it,” she said.
She’ll be the first to tell you her time-management skills need work.
From the time she walks through the door she’s pulled in different directions.
“People think because I’m the director everything has to be run through me,” Spradlin laughed. “Really, I need to be back in the office making sure we have orders. I typically now try to come in a different door to make it.”
But by lunchtime she’s on the floor, talking to her residents.
She’s found that a full belly makes for better outcomes when trying to deal with issues.
After that the afternoon is a sea of marketers, home health agencies, care teams and other appointments.
Aduddell got her an assistant – whom she calls “a rock star” to make life easier.
But from the very beginning she’s always had one non-negotiable while working at Heritage – half days on Fridays during garage sale season.
She says she got hooked back in those poor early ministry days.
But now she’s shopping for her residents.
“Equipment my residents might need or for bedding or clothing for someone who doesn’t have family,” Spradlin says. “I’m always buying stuff to bring back to work.”