Respiratory Care Week, a nationally recognized event sponsored by the American Association for Respiratory Care, is held annually to celebrate the work of respiratory therapists and promote awareness of lung health issues and practices. Respiratory Care Week 2012 was October 21-27.
Faye Mathis, program chair of the OTC Respiratory Care program, organized the first annual OTC Respiratory Care Technology Program Information Day in recognition of area respiratory therapists; the OTC Respiratory Care program; healthcare officials who work with and support respiratory students; and Respiratory Care Week.
The event took place from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. at OTC on October 23, in conjunction with Respiratory Care Week, and offered demonstrations, activities, and educational opportunities for participants. Ms. Mathis was assisted by Mrs. Mandy Lee, OTC lead clinical instructor, area respiratory therapists (OTC alumni) and current respiratory students. The group geared up for the event by purchasing program-related giveaways and informational materials, making respiratory-related tabletop decorations, advertising the event, and ordering alumni t-shirts.
The most memorable activity of the day was when Waycross Mayor Clarence Billups proclaimed October as OTC Respiratory Care Technology Program Information Month. He was joined by OTC officials, instructors, and students in the Okefenokee Technical College library for the official signing ceremony.
As a result of the proclamation, plans are underway to make every October a time to “step up” respiratory care recruitment efforts in order to inform prospective students of the profession and its rewards. Ms. Mathis and Mrs. Lee hope to inspire others to enter the respiratory profession while they educate the community about healthy lung practices and thank respiratory therapists for their contributions to the healthcare field.
Since the program’s inception in 1993, OTC’s respiratory care technology program has graduated over 180 respiratory therapists who have entered the area’s workforce. Quite possibly, all graduates were taught by Ms. Mathis and either Mrs. Lee or Ms. Kelly Saxon. Respiratory therapists provide care for patients with lung disease or injuries that affect lung function. Respiratory Care is a health care specialty directed at the diagnosis, treatment, management, and care of patients with deficiencies and abnormalities associated with the cardio-respiratory system.
Program graduates receive a respiratory care associate degree which qualifies them to take the examinations to become a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT), the highest credential for the profession. Students first become a certified respiratory therapist (CRT) by taking the entry level certification exam administered by the National Board for Respiratory Care. Upon successful completion of the CRT exam, graduates are eligible to take the Registry (RRT) Exams. Respiratory therapists who pass the National Board exams may apply for a Respiratory Care Professional license with the Georgia Composite Medical Board.
The OTC Respiratory Care Technology AAS degree program prepares graduates for these exams.
According to the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Programs, just 15 respiratory programs in Georgia are accredited. The OTC respiratory program is accredited with the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC) and is listed among accredited programs at http://www.coarc.com.
Ms. Mathis and Mrs. Lee attribute the success of the program to the students, OTC support staff, and healthcare partners, especially Dr. Manel D.Nayak, a pulmonologist who served as the program’s Medical Director from 1994 through 2012. As Medical Director, Dr. Nayak was charged with providing input “necessary to ensure that the medical components of the curriculum meet current standards of medical practice (CAAHEP).”
Students enrolled in the respiratory care technology program gain a wide variety of experiences through rotations at clinical sites. They are supervised in the clinical setting at all times by qualified clinical staff and gain experience interacting with other healthcare professionals and
working with state-of-the-art equipment during their clinical rotations, including short rotations in special clinical areas.
Mayo Clinic Health System is the program’s primary clinical affiliate, and Dr. Timothy Catchings of Mayo Clinic is the current medical director for the OTC respiratory care program. “Dr. Catchings is a tremendous asset to the program,” stated Mathis. “As an interventional cardiologist, he brings knowledge and experience that supports a skill set sometimes underestimated in respiratory care training programs, yet he also specializes in internal medicine and pulmonary disease.”
Other respiratory care clinical sites or affiliates are Tift Regional Medical Center in Tifton, South Georgia Medical Center in Valdosta, Memorial Medical Center in Savannah, St. Joseph/Chandler in Savannah, Coffee Regional Medical Center in Douglas, Barnes Home Care in Waycross, Life Line Home Care in Douglas, Pheobe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany, Jones Medical Equipment in Waycross, South Georgia Lung Specialists in Waycross, Dr. Chandrakanth Amaram in Waycross, Southeast Primary Care in Waycross, and Austin Respiratory and Medical Equipment in Douglas.
For more information about the respiratory care technology program at Okefenokee Technical College, call Faye Mathis at (912) 287-6515 or Mandy Lee at (912) 287-5821.
Dr. Glenn Deibert (seated right), college president, Faye Mathis (seated left), program chair of the OTC Respiratory Care program, Mandy Lee (Front Row, 2nd from left), lead clinical instructor, and the following respiratory care students were on hand to witness Mayor Clarence Billups sign a proclamation declaring October as OTC Respiratory Care Technology Program Information Month: Jenifer Davis (Back Row, L to R), Danielle Boyd, Will Medders, Joshua Hodges, Amanda Tanner, Monica Lewis, Denise Tisby, Christy Treat, Liza Thrift, Candi Warren, Sylvia Smith, Kymberli Lewis, Jon Spell, Kylar Lewis, Presley Thornton (Front Row, L to R), Lee, Melissa Lake, Takeshia Roberts, Hilary Johnson, Marlee Taylor, Shea Davis, Kaylee Braddock, and Clarice White.
OTC students and instructors shared information about the respiratory care program and profession with Mayor Billups before taking him on a tour of the respiratory lab.
Candi Warren (L to R), Clarice White, and Amanda Tanner discuss respiratory care procedures they will demonstrate as part of respiratory program information day. They hope to inspire others to choose respiratory as their career field.
Clarice White, a student in the OTC respiratory program, demonstrates how to intubate a patient.
Takeshia Roberts (left) and Marlee Taylor greet visitors and direct them to the respiratory lab. All visitors received information about the program and a goodie bag.