SCC students find positions with Atrium

Published 9:55 am Monday, April 13, 2020

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Erika Dabbs

Many patients who become critically ill because of the COVID-19 respiratory virus need the help of a mechanical ventilator until their lungs heal.

There has been a lot of discussion around the need for more ventilators and more personal protective equipment (PPE), but there is also a need for trained individuals who can manage mechanical ventilators for patients who have sick lungs.

Jennifer Castillo

The professionals who manage these life-saving machines in the United States are respiratory care practitioners (RCPs). In addition to managing ventilators, RCPs are responsible for a host of other tasks related to the cardiopulmonary system. Because of this responsibility, the North Carolina Respiratory Care Board (NCRCB) approached Stanly Community College to help with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jennifer Ridenhour

On March 19, Tina Lewman, M.A.Ed., RRT-NPS, RCP, program director of the respiratory therapy program at SSCC, received an email from the NCRCB. Attached was a signed declaratory ruling that instituted the Respiratory Care Assistant (RCA) program.

“This means that our senior students, who will be graduating in May, can begin working now as assistants in the hospital under the supervision of a licensed Respiratory Care Practitioner,” Lewman said.

Kelly Porter

The implementation of the Respiratory Care Assistant program will aid in adding to the workforce needed to respond to this pandemic.

“As RCAs, students will alleviate a greater workload from the licensed RCP by treating patients with the needed oxygen therapy, aerosolized medication therapy, and chest physiotherapy,” said Dr. William Croft, Ed.D., PhD., RRT, RCP, executive director of the North Carolina Respiratory Care Board. “While these procedures may be considered routine in other circumstances, these procedures take on a much greater significance during the COVID-19 crisis. They will be a valuable resource for the Respiratory Therapy departments and their contributions will help save lives,”

Olivia Caudle

Seven students from the SCC Respiratory Therapy class of 2020 have already accepted positions through Atrium Health as Respiratory Care Assistants.

“They interviewed last week and were offered jobs this week,” said Amy Witschey, BSRT, RRT-ACCS, RCP, director of clinical education for the Respiratory Therapy program at SCC. “We usually prepare our senior students by hosting ‘mock interviews’ with real department managers before they actually interview for jobs. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were not able to schedule mock interviews this year, but it does not look like it hurt them in any way.”

Shelton Jones

Sarah Jones