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Meet the Students Who Won a 2016 PHS RT Scholarship

The PHS respiratory therapy scholarship is designed for students or recent graduates enrolled in respiratory therapy programs. There were two awards of $500 and one award of $1,000 given – we had many great applicants! Below, we’re pleased to introduce the three scholarship winners who we were able to meet last month at the North Regional Respiratory Care Conference. 

First place winner: Madeline Jones 

Madeline is nearly done with her respiratory therapy program and already is busy teaching others the information she’s learned during her time at St. Paul College. As the nanny of a 3½ year old with reactive airway disease, Madeline has been able to pass along education she’s received about the child’s disease process and cares to the parents – one of many reasons respiratory therapy is a personal path for her.

“I have known that I wanted to go into the medical field since I was a child, but events throughout my life lead me to respiratory therapy,” said Madeline. “My grandmother passed away due to an asthma attack before I was born, my aunt passed away from a COPD exacerbation, my grandfather passed away from small cell carcinoma, and a dear friend passed away at 16 after a long battle with bone cancer.”

Madeline enjoys the fact that RTs have an in-depth thought process about complications occurring in the body because they are experts on the heart and lungs, and enjoys problem solving in critical situations. She’s become passionate about educating others on respiratory equipment, what types of medications they’re using, and helping them to maintain their best quality of life.

Looking ahead, Madeline would like to work in a pediatric unit and appreciates how much variety there is in the field with career opportunities in the hospital, rehabilitation, and home care setting. Additionally, she plans to also obtain her bachelor’s degree in pulmonary science.

Second place winner: Susan Ruchti

After three years of attending school to become a respiratory therapist, Susan will tell you she didn’t choose to pursue this career – it chose her.

PHS RT scholarship second place winner, Susan Ruchti, with her instructorWhen her first son was born 5½ weeks early and had to spend time in a children’s hospital due to pneumonia, Susan encountered her first experience with the amazing work respiratory therapists do. Then, when she had her twins 10 weeks early two years later and they had respiratory needs related to lung development, Susan continued to learn the multitude of functions a respiratory therapist serves.

“It fascinated me how the RTs were there at a moment’s notice when a little life was having difficulty,” said Susan. “As I spent a lot of time in the hospitals due to my twins being in the NICU, I wanted to learn everything I could about the care of the new little lives I brought into the world. I asked a lot of questions, and in turn learned a lot about their care each step of the way.”

After pursuing degrees and careers in the medical field while her children were growing up, Susan was in the hospital with her son due to his asthma issues when an RT mentioned that with how well versed she was in respiratory care, she should pursue a career in it and began looking into respiratory programs.

Today, Susan is showing her grown children the importance of reaching goals and that nothing is impossible while she looks ahead to her new career as a respiratory therapist.

Second place winner: Kendra Sander

Kendra can’t wait to follow in the healthcare footsteps her mom created as a radiographer at a hospital – and as the final semester of her respiratory therapy program wraps up, she is looking forward to having a positive effect on patients and their families.

PHS RT Scholarship second place winner, Kendra Sander, with her instructor.After being inspired by the work her mom did, Kendra knew the direction she wanted her career path to go and obtained her nursing assistant certification to working in the nursing home setting. She soon enrolled in the University of Minnesota in Rochester to be centered at around one of the best hospitals in the country, and began researching patient-centered careers. After learning about respiratory therapy and shadowing an RT at Mayo Clinic, Kendra was hooked.

“Respiratory therapy is an ever changing career and new ideas are constantly being learned,” mentioned Kendra. “Some may think that our focus is solely on the respiratory system but it is much more dynamic than that. All the systems interact with each other and a therapist must have a grasp on each system.”

Upon graduation, Kendra will be working as a respiratory therapist at Mayo Health Systems in Mankato where she will have the opportunity to continue her learning in a variety of hospital branches. She also plans to pursue her registration in Pulmonary Function Testing to further immerse herself in respiratory therapy.

Originally published: May 5, 2016

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