“Students in this program have the most technologically advanced tools to optimize educational outcomes and promote their smooth transition into the workforce.”
Undergraduate student Alicia Howard '19 cares about your heart, as well as your lungs and pulmonary system for that matter.
Carlow University's Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Care (BSRC) is a perfect fit for Howard, as it prepares students for careers treating a variety of respiratory illnesses and cardiopulmonary disorders, including chronic bronchitis, cystic fibrosis, heart disease, and much more. Having studied previously at a community college, Howard received transfer credits toward her Carlow degree.
Last summer, Howard shadowed a family friend on the job as a respiratory care specialist at UPMC McKeesport. She saw a person receive breathing treatments, which allow a patient to inhale medications in the form of a mist, and observed patients receiving care for critical conditions. The day was fascinating. She switched her major from nursing to BSRC where she could focus on one area of the human body.
Carlow's BSRC program is one of just 60 of its kind in the U.S. It is the first program in the country to integrate the Anatomage virtual dissection table into its courses, which uses medical imaging data to display lifelike views of human anatomy.
"Students in this program have the most technologically advanced tools to optimize educational outcomes and promote their smooth transition into the workforce," said Michael Mehall, MEd, BSRT, RRT-NPS, CPFT, chair of the respiratory care program.
Growing up with a father, a younger sister, and a younger brother all with asthma, Howard felt a personal connection to the respiratory care field. Her whole household had to learn to cope with asthma, from having to cut back on physical activities to being extra careful during cold weather when asthma sufferers are prone to attacks.
"My brother loves every kind of sport, but he had to stop participating in some of them because of his asthma," Howard said. "Eventually I will be able to educate people with asthma and help make things easier for them."
Some graduates choose professions as educators for issues such as smoking cessation. Currently, Howard and other BSRC students hope to establish a club about respiratory care that would raise awareness of health issues.
Students like Howard in Carlow’s inaugural BSRC class are giving a great start to a bachelor’s program that will, in turn, give them a great start to their careers.