MEET SWINITA (SUNI).
Suni is a graduate of SJR State’s Respiratory Care A.S. degree program.
Her career includes working at Wolfson's Children’s Hospital and Flagler Hospital.
She is enrolled in the anesthesia assistant master’s program at Nova Southeastern University.
SUNI, WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A RESPIRATORY THERAPIST? When the respiratory program was starting at SJR State, I was looking to do something with all of the previous health and science classes I took. There were several nurses and doctors in my family, and I didn't want to do either of those. I just wanted to do something different.
On the first day of lab, we didn't have all of our equipment yet, but we did have "Mr. Head," which was used for intubation practice. I had no idea that we intubated patients until I saw that mannequin head. That's how little I knew about what I was getting myself into. Today, I've intubated countless babies and have no fear.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE SJR STATE? I had just completed my A.A. in general education at SJR State, and there were brochures in the Admissions office about the program. I was already familiar with the school and was happy to see there was something that I could pursue in the same place.
HOW DID YOUR TRAINING BEST PREPARE YOU FOR THE WORKFORCE? Professor Holly Coulliette was extremely instrumental with preparing me for the workforce. If she was not there to make sure we got the training and clinicals that we needed, I'm not sure I would be sitting around talking about this today. Professor Coulliette always set standards of what she expected from us (sometimes, reminding me of my strict aunt who raised me), and she didn't let us cut corners.
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE FOR YOU TO JOIN THE WORKFORCE AFTER YOUR TRAINING? After I graduated and passed my boards, I was offered a job at Wolfson's Children’s Hospital, where I worked for 8-plus years. I was also offered a job at Florida Hospital Flagler a week later, and I rotated between the two hospitals for about a year before I stayed solely at Wolfson's.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE CONTEMPLATING RESPIRATORY THERAPIST AS A CAREER? For those contemplating a career in respiratory therapy, I would encourage them to learn all they can while they are in school and prepare to learn more once you start working. There were things that I was taught in clinicals that seemed above and beyond, but, in hindsight, when put to use, it made me grateful for paying attention.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS? After finishing the respiratory program at SJR State, I went on to complete my bachelor's in respiratory therapy at Nova Southeastern University. This strengthened my skills in this field and allowed me to make better decisions in the hospital, help write policies and protocols, and grow in my profession.
Currently, I am completing pre-requisites for the anesthesia assistant program at Nova Southeastern University. It's a master's program, which is on the same playing field as the certified registered nurse anesthetist. Most respiratory therapists don't realize that they are actually clinically prepared for this stepping stone, since they already intubate and do arterial lines. However, the schooling is definitely challenging, as the pre-requisites are all the same as medical school. After being in this field for almost 10 years, working with pediatrics, infants and adults, working on an ECMO team and making critical decisions on a regular basis, what’s a simple chemistry class compared to that?
Never doubt that you can do the hard classes; it just requires putting one foot in front of the other.
Suni is a graduate of SJR State’s Respiratory Care A.S. degree program. Her career includes working at Wolfson's Children’s Hospital and Flagler Hospital. She is enrolled in the anesthesia assistant master’s program at Nova Southeastern University.
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