Going back to school to further your education when you’re already in the workforce and busy with family and other life-related obligations can be a real challenge. With the advent of online degree programs, however, many people are finding it’s not as difficult as they thought to work that additional degree into the schedule.
Fams Taal, BSRT, RRT, is one of them. Originally from Gambia, he came to this country nearly 14 years ago at the age of 18 and he earned his AAS in respiratory care from Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) in Springfield, MA, in 2015. “The STCC RT program was one of the best in the area,” he says. “No doubt it was a tense two years, but it got me well prepared for the real world of respiratory care. The professors and clinical instructors were very helpful catering to student needs.”
As soon as he graduated, however, he realized he would need to further his education to excel in his new career and for him, the answer was the online BSRT degree program at Midwestern State University out of Wichita Falls, TX.
“To be quite frank, many professions are leaning toward the bachelor’s level now so I figured why not stay ahead of the game and attain my BSRT before it is too late,” says the AARC member. “My decision was also based on job security and my plans to eventually go back to school again to attain my master’s degree.”
The online route fit his lifestyle. As a dad and husband working full time between two RT jobs he just didn’t see how there would be enough time in the day to add onsite classes into the mix.
The key to making it all work was organization. “The online medium requires 100% dedication, 100% focusing to stay on track. It also requires a major amount of organization,” he says. That was especially true for him in his last semester when he took eight courses for 22 credits.
“The truth obviously is that no one will show you how to get the job done. You have to teach yourself to get the job done and contact your professor if you need help or have any questions,” says Taal. His says his professors at Midwestern were always good about getting back to him in a timely manner, and that made the experience a lot easier.
Today Taal works as an RT at both Mercy Medical Center in Springfield and Western Massachusetts Hospital in Westfield and he believes his new BSRT degree has given him the added confidence he needs to perform his job on a daily basis. “I have acquired more critical thinking skills as well as skills for diagnosis and treatment of cardiopulmonary patients.”
Taal has this advice for anyone considering the online route for an advance degree:
- Evaluate yourself to make sure online education is right for you.
- Try it out by taking an online course.
- Acquire a good laptop and access to the Internet.