It should have been a time of great joy. After all, she had just given birth to her first child. Instead, Kimberly Wade experienced sheer panic. As she lay in recovery after her C-section, she felt like an elephant was sitting on her chest. The nurses called a respiratory therapist who knew it was an extreme allergic reaction. The room got dark—Wade was coding. Suddenly, a tube was pushed into her windpipe, and an amazing machine breathed oxygen and life into her body.
“I always had bad allergies, but not asthma. I acquired that as an adult for the first time in the hospital. I was on the ventilator for four days,” said Wade, who is now a second-year respiratory care student at Collin College.
Wade earned a bachelor of science degree in social work from Texas Woman’s University and a master of science degree in social work from Our Lady of the Lake University. As a social worker, she frequently worked with respiratory therapists in the hospital emergency room.
“The more I watched and talked to respiratory therapists, the more I wanted to do what they did. I chose Collin College because it has an awesome reputation.”
Anna Bennett, who earned an associate of applied science degree from Collin College while on scholarship, is now respiratory care manager at The Medical Center of Plano and serves on both the respiratory and emergency medical services advisory boards at Collin College. She earned a bachelor of science degree from Columbia Southern University, and she is currently pursuing a master of science degree in organizational leadership.
“I know the quality this program provides to the students who are the health care community’s future employees. I hire Collin College graduates because I know we will receive new hires with solid foundations to begin their careers. Collin College graduates are knowledgeable, eager and prepared. I caution anybody wanting to enter a professional program, such as respiratory care, to do their homework and ensure the program they choose has good outcomes as far as the student pass rates with the national board examinations, as well as the percentage of graduates with job placement post-graduation,” Bennett said.
According to Araceli Solis, Collin College director of Respiratory Care, last year’s graduates had a 100-percent pass rate on the Certified Respiratory Therapist exam and a 95-percent pass rate on the advanced-level Registered Respiratory Therapist exam. This class also has a 95 percent job placement rate.
“We have exceeded all thresholds set by our accreditation committee, and this is what makes our program distinguished among respiratory care programs nationwide. Another aspect that makes our program unique is the dedicated faculty. Our classroom instructors teach the theory, and our clinical instructors help them apply these concepts to the bedside. We prepare our students for real-life situations by utilizing our simulation department. These mannequins are as close to the ‘real thing’ as you can get. They can speak, blink, breathe, can be placed on a ventilator and have a pulse,” Solis said.
For Wade the story has come full circle. Soon she will officially be on the other side of the hospital bed making sure her patients can breathe freely. However, she is already making a difference in the lives of people in our community.
“I had a patient who was intubated. She didn’t speak English and did not understand what people were doing. I was able to speak with her in Spanish and explain that we have to take arterial blood gases, including levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood. When you have asthma, carbon dioxide levels can be abnormally high, while oxygen levels can be below normal. I had the opportunity to educate her about asthma and how to keep it under control. Upon recovery, she said she was really happy to talk to me.”
For more information on the Respiratory Care program, visit collin.edu/rcp or call 972-548-6870.