Respiratory therapy students breathe
easy with broad career opportunities
By Catherine Harper
Across the nation, Texas State’s respiratory care students are blazing trails as leaders in their field, spreading their passion for caregiving throughout the medical profession. And with a 2010 enrollment of 135 undergraduate students, Texas State’s program is the largest in the nation.
According to Greg Marshall, the chair of Texas State’s Department of Respiratory Care, respiratory therapy is one of the most versatile and “in-demand” professions in the medical world. Respiratory therapists work alongside a practitioner to treat emphysema, chronic bronchitis, asthma, high-risk delivery of infants and, in emergency rooms, patients who’ve been in accidents, have punctured lungs or who need to be connected to mechanical ventilation.
In this ever-expanding profession, career opportunities for Texas State respiratory care students are plentiful. This past spring, seniors in Texas State’s respiratory care program were invited to a job preview event the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), one of the top children’s hospitals in the country. While there, they participated in “Rx for Success,” an all-expenses paid conference exploring respiratory care with guidance from professionals in the field.
The six Texas State students who attended made up the largest representation from any school. Respiratory care students Whitley Joiner, Ashley Marks, Sarah Porter, Amanda Johnston, Aimee Holt and Olivia Williams made up the Texas State team and were known as the “Texas ladies.”
According Marshall, the conference invitation was very significant to the program and to the participating seniors.
“We were really pleased because Texas State had the largest group from any program in the country,” Marshall says. “It was an amazing experience for them.”
At the conference, the group had the opportunity to meet respiratory care seniors from all across the country and network with hospital practitioners. According to Sarah Porter, networking with peers and professionals in the field provided first-hand insight and tools of the trade.
“Most of the weekend was spent with people in our same field,” Porter says. “We were able to speak directly with current respiratory therapists at the hospital [about] scheduling, work loads, what they liked best about the hospital … and miscellaneous other things. Everyone was extremely helpful and friendly in answering any questions that we had. “
Students were provided with informative workshops and guided tours of the hospital and city, learning how to interact with patients, families and practitioners in the daily life of a respiratory therapist.
The hospital also gave students the chance to interview with the management staff for a position on their respiratory care staff. Olivia Williams, among five others, accepted this opportunity — adding further value to the experience.
“I can honestly say that the respiratory care faculty and staff have more than prepared us for our careers,” Williams says. “We were able to answer questions thoroughly and efficiently… This was such an amazing opportunity for us to see first-hand the job security and all the knowledge we possess.”
For Amanda Johnston, the entire experience allowed for a broader understanding of her career path and the opportunities ahead.
“The whole experience opened my eyes to the opportunities that are out there,” Johnston says. “The experience and knowledge that a new graduate could attain from CHOP is endless, not to mention the doors that would open for a better career.”
To learn more about respiratory therapy and the program at Texas State, visit the Department of Respiratory Care website.