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Southwest Career and Technical Academy

The Charles Marshall Foundation purchased equipment for the Repiratory Therapy Program at Southwest Career and Technical Academy so students may experience hands on education in their classroom. This will better prepare them for real life experience in their field.

Part of a Respiratory Therapists job is to assess the patient and make good judgment evaluations so that correct information will be provided to the doctor and nurse. RT's must be trained in EKG's for evaluation in a critical moment as well as routine assessment. Many hospitals require RT's to do the EKG's either at all times and or after hours. When I was asked to develop this program and write the curriculum, this was written as a vital component of the program. Due to funding in CCSD, this was one of several pieces of equipment which was eliminated and never has been purchased. Students need to learn hands on and experience how to assess, set up,run as well as learn to read and measure actual EKG's rather than from a book. Yes, written information is part of the process of learning ECG's, but with practice comes questions and understanding of instruction to a meaningful and useful level as well.


Retention of information and understanding is imparative for accurate diagnosis and as students entering medical field in post secondary educational facilities will have a greater understanding of the next level of instruction and education from the career and technical classroom. At this point, this part of the curriculum has not been taught due to lack of equipment, only reviewed in a text book. The lessons and instruction hands on activities will better prepare them for their next step of education as well as preparing them to be informed consumers of health care and better parents to deal with illness.  

The respiratory therapy program at SWCTA is a 4 yr old program that is one of a kind in the nation.  Vicki Smith, teacher of the program, has 30 years of medical training and work in Respiratory Therapy has led her to develop a program where students learn a diverse background of knowledge and information that transfers into all medical occupations and prepares students for entry into post secondary medical focused programs such as physicians, nurses, occupational therapists, physical therapists, recreational therapists and many more as well a preparing students with knowledge and extertise to transfer into to area respiratory therapy programs. Students have completed 60 hrs of job shadowing within various medical, long term and acute facilities in respiratory therapy to gain knowledge about the field and make quality decisions about their future. Her background in RT as well as emergency medicine, intensive care, air ambulance and hyperbaric therapy has helped me instruct as well as facilitate their learning with hands on activities that simulate the real world and what they are going to experience.
In any medical field, accurate assessment of the patient is vital and RT's are the first ones usually called on to respond to an emergency. Their expertise in the field gives feedback to the  nurses and doctors to help diagnosis and make accurate treatment decisions. This could be in emergency situation or a routine assessment. With equipment that is industry standards, the students will learn to set up, run as well as read and measure various patterns. This will provide them with knowledge and skills to assist then with their next level of medical education post secondary.  She knows from previous life experiences, students become motivated to learn.  She says part of the experience is from books, but hands on learning then helps students connect the information to real life.  ECG's are a field that students could also work as a technician at area hospitals while pursuing higher education. Many hospitals also have RT's run ECG's as part of their jobs or after hours when their regular technicians are gone.
Vicki loves what she does and her philosophy is about students reaching their potential and goals in life.  She says, "It is not for me but for them as we need compassionate health care workers to replace all of us someday.  I want my program at SW to be known for producing great healthcare leaders".