[SPOKANE, Wash.] The COVID-19 epidemic inspired a Spokane Community College student to go into the respiratory care field, leading her to become the first ever SCC student to represent Washington at the American Association of Respiratory Care’s House of Delegates.
Minh Thu Nguyen attended the House of Delegates meeting last month in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. For the summer meetings, representatives from each state get together for conversations around the respiratory care field, like how to improve their jobs and offering high quality patient care.
“There’s a lot of perspectives and opinions,” Nguyen said. “It’s a new world for me to be entering and just experiencing the behind-the-scenes of the organization and what they’re doing for us to work in the field.”
The American Association of Respiratory Care (AARC) is a not-for-profit association with 40,000 members internationally. Membership mostly consists of respiratory therapists and allied health practitioners, who are trained for two to four years to assist physicians in the care of patients with lung disorders and other conditions. Within the AARC is a House of Delegates, which represent affiliates from every state.
“Basically, they’re our voice,” said Toni D’Amato, the program director of SCC’s Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Care. “Any big decisions have to go to them for a vote. We need student representatives for what’s happening on the student level and also to get them more involved on the state and national level.”
Students attend AARC meetings twice a year for the Summer Forum and International Respiratory Convention and Exhibition in November. To be a student representative, Nguyen had to undergo an application process that included writing an essay explaining why it was important to her and how her work would support her profession and fellow students.
“Minh is very dedicated and motivated, and her heart is in it for the right reasons,” D’Amato said. “She is dedicated to her students and really wants to make a difference in the field, and I think that showed in the application. It was an amazing opportunity for her to see what happens on the national level.”
“I applied for it without any expectation, so I was like ‘whoa,’ I’m actually here,” Nguyen said. “Everyone was really nice. The delegates from other states greeted me really warmly.”
Networking is another benefit to the Summer Forum. Nguyen was able to become familiar with professional delegates and student delegates from other states and ask them questions.
“Networking was a huge opportunity because, not only are you meeting other delegates from other states, but you’re also meeting your fellow students,” she said. “I thought it was one of the cool things about the meeting; you can meet people who share the same passion as you.”
Over nine consecutive quarters, students in SCC’s BAS in Respiratory Care are taught cardio-pulmonary health from neo-natal through adulthood through lab, clinic and hands-on learning. They are taught invasive and non-invasive procedures, medication administration and how to use technical equipment. Paid internships are available through Providence MultiCare groups and Kootenai Health. Through the program, students get certified in Advanced Cardiac Life Support and become neo-natal resuscitation providers and CPR instructors. Since they receive a Bachelor of Science, students can go straight into a Master of Science program or job once they graduate.
“They really come out ready to work anywhere,” D’Amato said. “And Minh does a very good job being the face of the respiratory program and the face of SCC."
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CCS provides education and services in a six-county region of Eastern Washington, operates Spokane Falls Community College and Spokane Community College and is the largest provider of Head Start and Early Childhood Education in the region. Each year, nearly 30,000 people – from infants to senior citizens – are provided educational services by CCS.