PITTSBURGH —The phrase “breathing easy” has multiple meanings for a respiratory therapist.
As students at Carlow University, Kassidy Dickson and Zachary Talley could breathe easy each semester when their finals were done.
Today, these 2019 graduates of Carlow University’s Respiratory Care program have careers as respiratory therapists at two leading Pittsburgh hospitals, and they see first-hand how breathing easy can be nearly impossible for some of their patients.
Dickson is a registered respiratory therapist at Magee Womens Hospital of UPMC, and Talley is a respiratory therapist in the Trauma, Burn, and Intensive Care Units at UPMC Mercy Hospital.
And they both give credit to the instruction they received as students in the respiratory care program at Carlow.
“Carlow’s respiratory care program has pushed me and prepared me to be the best respiratory therapist (RT) that I could become,” Talley said. “The biggest part of the program that stood out to me was the amount of effort the professors give, to allow each and every student to excel. They take time out of their own day to make sure everything is going well on your end - in or out of school. They are the type of professors you want to help guide you through the busy and intense courses that are needed to become an RT.”
The word is getting out about Carlow’s Respiratory Care program. Intelligent.com ranked Carlow #9 in the nation for respiratory care, ahead of programs at much larger universities.
“The (high) ranking does not surprise me at all,” Dickson said. “Mike Mehall, Kathy Palombo and Kim Haley were great at teaching and getting us experience in great hospitals. We had multiple rigorous classes that they made sure we truly understood the topics before moving on. I learned so many extra things from these classes outside of the scope of respiratory that has really benefited my career this far.”
Dickson added, that while learning in the classroom is great, having hands-on, real life experience in the hospital is the best way to learn. She appreciated the fact that Carlow’s program ensured that students had plenty of clinical hours on general floors and critical care units shadowing other therapists to prepare them for a career as a respiratory therapist.
“I really enjoyed the small class sizes. I graduated with 10 other students. It was great for labs and asking questions because we could have one-on-one time if we were having a hard time with anything,” Dickson said. “I also enjoyed how we focused on not just the lungs, but all other parts of the human body. This really expanded my knowledge to better care for my patients.”
Both Dickson and Talley didn’t hesitate about encouraging other students to investigate respiratory care as a potential major.
“I thought Carlow’s program was great,” Dickson said. “They are great professors and really care about their students, not only just in the classroom. I learned so much from them and am thankful for the education that they gave me.”
Talley seconded that sentiment. “They are not just great professors, but someone you can come to for help any time.”
For more information visit Carlow University’s Respiratory Care program page.