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Hospital's Career Ladder Program Announces Graduates

July 06, 2004

Program Gives Hospital Employees Chance to Advance Their Careers

The first three graduates of the Washington Hospital’s Respiratory Therapy Career Ladder Program graduated from Ohlone College this spring.

The graduates are Candice Tubera, Joann de Vera-Camaisa and Holly Souza. All three will join Washington’s Respiratory Care department.

Previous to graduating from Ohlone’s Respiratory Therapy program, Tubera worked as a patient accounting representative; de Vera-Camaisa worked as a clerk in Central Registration; and Souza worked as an ER registration clerk.

Program helps employees advance to the next level

Through this exciting new program, employees at Washington Hospital can become respiratory therapists. The program operates in conjunction with the hospital’s partner in community health and education, Ohlone College, where program participants complete their studies.

Kent Joraanstad, Director of Respiratory Care at the hospital, says he is very excited about the new program and believes it will provide an innovative and unique tool in staffing.

According to Joraanstad, the average age for RT professionals is about 46 and many health care organizations are facing a national and local shortage of qualified professionals in this important field, much like the one being faced in the nursing profession.

"The idea (the program is based on) is to help interested, qualified applicants while they attend RT school," Joraanstad said.

The beauty of Washington Hospital’s program is that it helps employees advance their careers by making it possible for them to go back to school, according to Joraanstad. Many times, balancing school and family obligations while having a career can discourage individuals from returning to school.

Respiratory Care professionals

Respiratory therapists work with patients with all kinds of respiratory illnesses and conditions, including: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, chronic bronchitis, cystic fibrosis, asthma and other kinds of environmental and smoking-related disorders.

Respiratory Care is a nationally recognized allied health specialty focused on the diagnosis and treatment of individuals with abnormalities or disorders of the cardiopulmonary system like the ones listed above. Respiratory Therapists work with physicians, nurses and other members of the health care team.

These professionals work in many different departments of Washington Hospital - from intensive care with patients that have undergone major surgeries or trauma to the nursery where premature newborns need ventilators to help them breath correctly. They also are actively involved in diagnostic testing of patients. Washington Hospital has 35 respiratory care practitioners on its staff.

Growing demand for qualified professionals

According to Joraanstad, the respiratory care profession has existed since the 1960s and gained widespread recognition during the 1970s with the advent of new technology and as many higher education institutions began offering formal programs in the field. Nationally, there are more than 100,000 respiratory care practitioners.

What many people do not know is that people still die of respiratory illnesses such as asthma and that deaths from COPD are on the rise - it is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, making the need for respiratory therapists even more essential, according to Joraanstad.

Because of the growing shortage of qualified respiratory therapists, recruiting has become more and more challenging for health care organizations. Washington Hospital’s program is exciting because it makes it easier for those who work for the hospital and are living in the community to advance their careers, while providing the health care system with highly trained staff in a much-needed profession, Joraanstad says.

To learn more about employment opportunities at Washington Hospital, click on the tab marked "CAREERS."