By Janelle Gardiner, DHSc, RRT, AE-C
Just after graduating from high school I began taking college courses. Like many others, I began working on general education courses. I was originally a business major. It only took one business course before I realized that was not for me.
Finding a new path
I started considering the things I really wanted to do. I gave serious thought to following in my mom’s footsteps and looked at elementary education. I come from a long line of educators and thought there might be something there for me. However, I already worked in a hospital and that sparked an interest in medicine. I began looking at the allied health professions.
When I found respiratory I felt like I found my home. It felt right.
I applied and was accepted in the Respiratory Therapy program at Weber State University. I completed a Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy and entered the workforce. Quite honestly, at that time I was thrilled that the BS was the highest degree I could obtain in Respiratory Therapy. I did not feel pressure to pursue a graduate degree because there was not one at the time. I worked full-time in the field and immediately began as a preceptor for Weber’s students.
I found that I really loved teaching. I worked full-time at the hospital and maintained my involvement with the students for several years.
Sometime later, I started teaching theory as an adjunct. I loved it! I did that for six months when I was offered a full-time teaching position. I did not have to spend much time in the world of academe to realize I needed more education.
Growing a career
By this time, I became aware of some MSRT programs elsewhere in the nation. I eventually selected the program at Northeastern and finished it in two years. My education did not stop there. I went on to earn a Doctor of Health Sciences degree from A. T. Still University.
When I was first looking into graduate school, I was able to network and meet with program directors from two different MSRT programs at the AARC International Congress meetings. I have since spent many of my ‘free’ evenings during Congress mingling with colleagues and meeting new friends from my alma mater through informal gatherings.
Additionally, I was honored to be selected by the American Respiratory Care Foundation for the William F. Miller Postgraduate Education Recognition Award in 2008 and again in 2014. These awards helped me to be able to financially afford the degrees.
Because I pursued advanced education, many doors have opened up to me. I am progressing in rank, and I am now an Associate Professor with tenure. That is an amazing honor.
My favorite benefit of having earned a doctoral degree is the opportunity I have to teach courses in the Master of Science in Respiratory Therapy program now available at Weber State University. We have wonderful students, and I really enjoy working with respiratory care professionals at this level.
My career path has truly been a remarkable road. I am grateful to have and owe much of my success to many great mentors. I look forward to the future.
Looking for help in advancing your degree? The American Respiratory Care Foundation offers scholarships, awards and grants. Check them out!