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Georgia Students Set Program Closure Protest to Music

April 6, 2010

Listen to the music:

“We Matter”

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“I Want to Be an RT”

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Whitney Van Brunt: We learned that the program was going to be cut on 3/11/2010. This was the day after our professors were informed that our program would be discontinued on July 1. I was absolutely DEVASTATED when we were told we would not be able to finish our last two semesters of the program. I now am wondering how I will pay not only student loans back (loans I took out to pay for this program) but how I will be able to pay my bills.

I want people to know what the role of a respiratory therapist is and just how important that role is. It's important that everyone realizes we are the workers who save lives along with other members of the medical staff. Our program getting cut not only affects us but the patient population as well. It will make it more difficult to receive proper respiratory care. I also want people to know that we want more than anything just to finish our program and we want to finish it at the school we started it at, Armstrong. Lastly, I want people to know that we are already halfway through the program and are being told we need to find something else to do. Some of us moved away from our family and friends to participate in this program and expect to finish, especially since we have invested so much time and money in the program already.

Kevin Trappio: Rumors of the AASU RT program being cut were going around in early February 2010. Confirmation of the program being cut was released to the public on March 10. When I heard the program was being cut I was shocked. I was more concerned about my fellow classmates and respiratory faculty than myself. I wanted to know if the 2011 class would be able to finish the program as the last RT class to graduate from AASU, and would the welfare of my professors be okay if they lost their jobs.

Burton Sapp: We were told Wednesday, March 10 that our program might be cut and that a train-out may not be an option. I thought that this was a poor decision for the college, community, and the economy due to how we, as RT students, have a high graduation rate and a 100% job fill rate for those that graduate.

This situation puts many people's futures in jeopardy because many health professions are being cut to be a quick fix for the school while damaging the rest of the local economy and health care facilities by taking away high quality health care providers from the area who will also spend money and boost the economy.

Greg Grant: The first time I heard that our program might be cut was on my birthday, March 11, 2010. When I first got the news I was in disbelief. I thought to myself, there’s no way they’re going to cut our program knowing we only have five classes left. I felt that all that I had worked for was now lost, all my dreams of not only graduating but graduating with a degree in a field that I love and one that helps others is gone. I thought about future financial stability. I felt my life, in other words, was over. No matter how hard I tried staying on the right path and doing the right things to serve as a role model for peers who can relate to the same hardships and misleading influences I experienced growing up, it seemed as if something always knocked me off my road to success or dropped another roadblock. I felt like giving up, but while contemplating my next move I asked myself, why keep pushing myself if it always ends the same way? Then I thought of my family and how proud they are of me. I thought of all my cousins and friends who look at me as living proof that there’s more to life than the negative things that always seemed to surround us. With all these things in mind I decided that my journey isn’t over until I quit, and I’m not a quitter.

I want people to know that our particular field of work is one of the top five health job fields in need, this program has been at AASU for over 30 years, and this particular program supplies BS level RTs in Savannah and Georgia's southeast area, ranging from South Carolina to Florida. Due to budget cuts issued by the state of Georgia, AASU is forced to evaluate what programs to remove from the college. By cutting this program, AASU is indirectly affecting the health care quality of respiratory therapy in this region. The ratio of RTs to patients with respiratory issues is becoming much larger, as the amount of patients increases without a proportional increase in respiratory therapists. AASU is still in question about if they will let the current students in the RT program finish the program before cutting it. I believe a college’s first priority is their students. The RT program faithfully produces graduates that have near 100% job placement in their field before they graduate or not long after. AASU is unique and known because of their health professional programs. If they get rid of theses types of programs they are becoming just another college with the same degrees as every other college. Students should have options. If you take options away from students you are turning them away from higher education.

It’s not so much about our future but the future of America. You’re not only cutting our program. You’re cutting the quality of care and the chances of survival of someone’s mother, father, son, or daughter in the event of a medical emergency or critical care situation. As students in the field of respiratory therapy we’re assisting in saving lives everyday in our clinical rotations. When someone is coding we’re maintaining airways, giving chest compressions, monitoring patients’ oxygen saturations, their heart rate and blood pressure, and keeping an eye on EKG readings, all while communicating with the physician. To many this seems like a lot, but in reality it’s barely a fraction of what we, as students, do in one clinical day. In the hospital setting respiratory therapists are the cornerstone of patient therapy. RTs are placed in situations that dictate whether your family member or loved one lives or dies on a day-to-day basis. Respiratory therapists are in high demand throughout the nation, and now that Congress has passed the new health care bill, there’s going to be an even higher demand for respiratory therapists in America.

Jasmine Smith: I learned that our program would be cut the Wednesday afternoon before spring break, while driving three hours back home. I had received a phone call from one of our professors. At first I had to ask my professor again what she had just said. I was just in shock and immediately started thinking, how could people do this right in the middle of a school year?

The first thing that I would like for people to take from this situation is support, support, support! All we need is a little backing and hopefully we will be fine. The second thing that people should capture is that we have worked so hard to get this far, not just in the program itself but actually working up towards the program. This is my career and the rest of my life that the budget cuts are hurting. Everyone deserves an education and being denied the opportunity to achieve that education is pathetic on the politicians' part and detrimental to the health care professionals that we are striving to be. Who will be left to tend to our sick patients? Obviously not any health care professionals if they keep cutting health programs like they are. Although I had no part in the rap song, I did participate in contacting the board of regents and everyone else I could possibly think of to try and mend their thoughts of cutting our program. Using all my resources, including forwarding the rap song, I hope I have persuaded many people to support the respiratory therapy program at Armstrong.

Robert Peters: I had been working a lot, and I was informed about the program closing down the last day before spring break. I want to finish the program and serve the community by seeking employment and paying taxes.

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