NICC - Northeast Iowa Community College

07/08/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 07/08/2019 14:09

Work-based learning program helps launch Miranda Barnhart’s career.

July 8, 2019

GUTTENBERG-Our dream careers and ambitious goals tend to stay in the distant future unless we take action to make them become reality.

High school students who plan their career goals and chart out their futures often see tremendous results for their efforts. And the earlier students start planning the better, Miranda Barnhart's career example proves.

Even as a wide-eyed sophomore at Edgewood-Colesburg High School, Barnhart seized on opportunities to earn college credit and learn about potential careers. She explored career interests in business and healthcare, especially long-term care. The Career Learning Link program through Northeast Iowa Community College and her high school advisors provided Barnhart with first-hand job shadowing experiences. Realizing that her goals were actually a combination of both business and long-term care, she combined both.

Barnhart is now the administrator of Guttenberg Care Center overseeing approximately 100 employees and two major divisions at the facility: Skilled Nursing Care & Rehabilitation and Eagle Ridge Independent and Assisting Living along with two programs; Healthy Living Home Care and Healthy Living Therapy. Nearly 90 total residents live within the facility and these services at the center with several more outpatients that utilize services as well.

'I originally wanted to be an accountant or lawyer, but after taking college credit courses in these areas at my high school, I realized that was not for me,' Barnhart recalled. 'This opportunity allowed me to find what I liked and didn't like prior to spending money and time earning a degree that was not for me. I earned my Certified Nurse's Aide (CNA) certificate through Northeast Iowa Community College and began working at Guttenberg Care Center. I still had a big interest in the numbers and business side of the industry. After doing job shadows at long-term care facilities and local hospitals through Career Learning Link, I felt more drawn to long-term care. The residents became like family and I fell in love with this line of work.'

Barnhart continued her education with these goals in mind. She earned a bachelor's degree in Business Administration, Marketing and Finance from Loras College. She also recently completed a master's degree in Health Care Administration from Purdue Global.

ABCM Corporation is the parent company that owns and operates Guttenberg Care Center. Barnhart's relationship with the employer began five years ago. She started working in various capacities as a CNA, dietary aide, paid nutritional assistant, activities assistant and environmental aide. In February 2018, ABCM named Barnhart manager of Eagle Ridge Independent and Assisting Living. Miranda received a promotion to her current administrator role in February of 2019.

Her daily management and leadership of the facility is a labor of love and every day is different, Barnhart said. 'I truly enjoy my work here because no day looks the same, and I'm leading an educated, motivated and compassionate team. Our staff and residents are all like a family; I've learned that this is a real community of great people. I take the time to sit down and listen to our residents' stories, I get to know their families, their birthdays and what their interests and passions are.'

A typical day in Barnhart's work life involves ongoing communication and decision-making. She oversees departments, approves insurances, manages hiring and employment scheduling, and helps direct the marketing efforts of the facility and its services. She makes personal connections in the Guttenberg area and educates community members on long-term care.

The name 'nursing home' has over many decades developed an unfortunate stigma to many. This misconception is outdated and does not accurately reflect the full range of services modern facilities provide for their residents, according to Barnhart.

'We really practice a continuum of care, including home care, outpatient therapy, independent or assisted living, skilled nursing and respite care, and short-term rehabilitation care to follow up with residents who have stayed with us and are back home,' she expressed

Early in her professional career, Barnhart has found real fulfillment in meaningful, rewarding work. She believes that high school students should plan ahead and begin identifying their interests, and the academic and college courses they should take, to make their career goals a reality.

'High school students should get involved in Career Learning Link offered at their schools and Northeast Iowa Community College. Taking the time to job shadow and learn about careers at a younger age will help you truly find your passion, save time in college and also save a lot of money. I also learned that business classes are useful, whether you are working in the business field or not,' Barnhart stressed.

Gena Gesing, Northeast Iowa Community College Director of Career Services, praised Barnhart's planning and direction, saying, 'Miranda is the model example of what a motivated student can accomplish through participating in each step of the work-based learning continuum. Iowa students have the unique opportunity to participate in work-based learning through the Iowa Intermediary Network, and as Miranda demonstrated with her career success story, the networking that occurs at a young age can result in future opportunities for rewarding employment. We are so proud that Miranda started her journey with NICC and the Career Learning Link!'

Barnhart, of Edgewood, may continue her education and training to earn a master's degree in business administration and/or a Ph.D. in healthcare administration in the future.

Learn how career exploration can provide a head start for high school students at