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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

SFCC holds open house for aspiring student respiratory therapists

Richard Smith placed his two front fingers over the wrist and found the low, inconsistent pulse. With a shaking hand, he slid the syringe into the rubbery skin, punctured the artery, and watched as the blood pulsed into the tube, shaking the vial with each throb.

This isn't a TV drama. Smith was one of about 60 students at SFCC to attend the hands-on Respiratory Care Open House on Wednesday afternoon for students interested in SFCC's respiratory-care program.

The annual open house is completely student-run, said Leah Carlson, director of clinical education for the program.

The open house attracted more than 150 students Tuesday and Wednesday who were given hands-on experience in the world of respiratory therapists. Respiratory therapists are medical professionals who only deal with conditions related to the respiratory system.

The event offered students the opportunity to participate in several real-life procedures practiced by respiratory therapists every day, Carlson said.

The blood-drawing exercise that Smith participated in allowed students to practice drawing blood samples from the wrist using a simulated human arm with Kool-Aid as blood.

In addition to drawing blood, students were able to try out other procedures, such as intubating a patient, a process in which a tube is placed down the trachea if a patient needs to be placed on a ventilator.

The respiratory-care program at SFCC is an 18-month program that prepares students for careers as respiratory-care practitioners. Itoko Manning, an SFCC student, attended the open house with her mother-in-law to decide whether or not she would pursue the respiratory-care program.

Manning said she came to the open house to see what jobs were available and what types of people pursue the respiratory care field.

The respiratory care program accepts only 30 students per term, but the small group creates a sense of family, said Katie Howell, a student in the program.

"My favorite thing about the program is how close we are to each other and our instructors," Howell said. "The instructors want to see us succeed, and the students all want to help each other."

The variety of jobs available as a respiratory therapist also attracts students who wish to enter the medical profession, like Julie Quintrall, a student in the program.

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"I wanted to enter the medical field, but I specifically decided to be a respiratory therapist because there is such a variety of career opportunities," Quintrall said. "You can work in geriatrics for a while and then switch to pediatrics if you want."

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