Respiratory Therapy Students Change Young Lives Through Partnership with The Children’s Hospital at Memorial University Medical Center
When the Spanish-speaking family of a young child with cystic fibrosis went to Memorial University Medical Center for treatment recently, Armstrong Atlantic State University respiratory therapy senior Robert Peters served as the interpreter.
A native of Panama, Robert translated medical instructions into Spanish for the family, putting them at ease and making the respiratory therapy process more comfortable and more educational. “That was a great experience for me,” says Robert. “It really made a big difference for the family.”
Robert is one of a growing number of respiratory therapy students who are participating in a successful partnership with The Children’s Hospital at Memorial University Medical Center (formerly Backus Children’s Hospital). Each year, approximately 20 Armstrong students take advantage of the opportunity to do a pediatric respiratory therapy rotation at Memorial.
“The Armstrong students work right alongside our respiratory therapists,” explains Linda Dominy, MHA, RRT-NPS, Director of Respiratory Care at Memorial Health Medical University. “They bring an enthusiasm that chronically ill children can really appreciate.”
Armstrong students have the opportunity to educate parents and children during Cystic Fibrosis clinics, conduct chest percussion to aid drainage, deliver oxygen to ventilators and transport patients. The partnership is a win/win situation for the hospital, which experiences a high volume of patients, and for the students, who are eager to get hands-on exposure to the health care industry.
“This partnership is going really well,” reports Pam Gillard, RRT, a registered Respiratory Therapist at Memorial. “We consider the Armstrong students to be an essential part of the team.”
Armstrong Associate Professor Douglas Masini, Ed.D., RRT-NPS, RPFT, AE-C, FAARC, who also serves as the university’s Director of Respiratory Therapy, has supervised the student internships since the program’s inception in 2008. “This is an excellent chance for students to see different therapies and medications,” he says. “These students get the chance to change patients’ lives.”
For students like Robert Peters, the opportunity to interact with pediatric patients and to learn from the experienced respiratory therapists at The Children’s Hospital at Memorial University Medical Center has been the chance of a lifetime. “We had the opportunity to ask questions and to get feedback,” he says of his rotation during the Fall 2010 semester. “As a student, you always need a lot of support. The team at Memorial made us feel at home and supervised every step we made. It was a wonderful experience.”