Putting the “care” in respiratory care

Shel Shel is fulfilling her dream of helping others. While earlier careers in nutrition and fitness may have satisfied previous efforts to aid others in the fields of physical wellness, Shel said knew she could offer more. Returning to college was the perfect remedy for a new career in the health care industry.

“I’ve always liked working with people and have always been interested in the medical field,” Shel said, yet she knew she needed specialized training in a career that didn’t require more years than she could reasonably commit. Like many non-traditional students, she had additional responsibilities.

Shel discovered that SJR State’s Associate in Science degree program in respiratory care was a good fit for her lifestyle. Dedicating two years was a realistic goal she could reach and still raise a family.

Now working as a respiratory therapist at Orange Park Medical Center, Shel’s job involves helping others when they are often at their highest level of need. As part of the rapid response team, her duties include inserting arterial lines, intubating, managing life support ventilators and pulmonary function testing, to name a few.

While Shel’s days are filled with treating patients with injuries and diseases in the trauma center, a fast-paced, challenging environment she thrives on, she says her job requires more than saving lives, it requires showing compassion. “Caring is critical,” she said. “Every day, I see so many sick people. Showing them kindness is another way we make them feel better.” Shel said caring extends beyond physical treatments. It involves comforting the patient.

Her call to make a difference in the world is met by making a difference in her patient’s world. “That just makes my day.”

Shel credits the entire staff at OPMC for contributing to the overall quality care. “I think we give great patient care. It’s a great environment to work in.”

Shel said she feels fortunate to have received her training at SJR State, and her 4.0 GPA is proof. She credits her instructors for teaching not only the clinical side of respiratory care, but for putting patient care at the top of their list. “They made it a point to always treat people as you would want to be treated,” Shel said. “I always respected them for that and remember their voice inside my head each day.”

For Shel, there are two components to becoming a good therapist – mastering the academics and mastering the clinicals. “I really feel I have become a very strong therapist because the instructors pushed us to learn the material and the sciences behind the program.”

“It’s more than just passing some test,” she said. “I tried to really understand it, and I think it’s paid off. I really feel the benefit comes to the patient.”