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News / Alumni May 1, 2023

ACC Graduate Saw Need for Respiratory Therapists During COVID-19 and Found Calling

May 1, 2023

Luis C. had always wanted to help people, he said, but it was during the COVID-19 pandemic that he discovered the field of respiratory therapy.

Luis began the 20-month program at the American Career College in March 2021, during a time when respiratory therapists were heavily sought after.

“It was rewarding knowing it was needed during the pandemic,” he said.

The respiratory therapy program at ACC instructs students via classroom, lab, and clinical settings on managing ventilators, oxygen therapy and other cardiopulmonary disorders. Luis said the instructors were key to ensuring that students succeeded and called his class “a family.”

“The directors, the teachers and instructors were very helpful. They always were available to tutor students,” Luis said. “They really cared about the students.”

Luis said his interactions with the ACC faculty differed from his time at community college.

“My experience at a community college was that they’re there for some slideshows and to give you some homework and that’s it,” he said. “Whereas at ACC, if you weren’t doing well, they would pull you aside and ask what was going on…They never looked angry or annoyed with any questions.”

Although he was a little nervous after graduating and entering “the real world,” Luis said he felt prepared by his education at ACC.

“At every lab day, the instructors made sure we were competent with what we were doing,” he said. “The equipment at ACC was good, and it definitely prepared me for what we were doing in our clinical setting.”

During one of his last clinical rotations, Luis went to check on a patient, a 21-year-old man on a mechanical ventilator. As a respiratory therapist, Luis is responsible for checking the patient’s vitals and making sure the ventilator was working properly. However, when Luis saw the young patient’s family, he said he realized his job encompassed much more.

“His family was sitting in there and they were crying and upset. They didn’t know how long he was going to be like that,” Luis said. “When you are working as a respiratory therapist or in any healthcare field, you aren’t just taking care of that patient and checking numbers, you are also taking care of the family members in there who are going through a hard time.”

Luis said this experience helped him to see his patients and their families as if they were his own.

“I spoke with the family and reassured them that we are doing everything we could to make sure to give him the best healthcare and get him off the ventilator as soon as possible,” Luis said. “I wanted to let them know I was there for them as well. That’s when it hit me to treat every patient or every patient’s family member like my own family. It makes a huge difference. No one wants to be in the hospital.”

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