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Respiratory Care Students Rank High in the Northwest

Miah Nystrom, Alexis Morrison, Kyler Wilson
Miah Nystrom, Alexis Morrison, Kyler Wilson

Eight students from the Department of Respiratory Care participated in one-week rotations in Northwest hospitals earlier this spring for the first time. A respiratory care practitioner treats and manages a patient’s breathing.

Jeff Anderson, associate professor and director of clinical education, said the University of Washington Medical Center (UWMC) contacted the department last fall. “They have hired our graduates in the past and were so pleased with their performance that they also wanted them to complete clinical rotations at their facility.”  The program has been so successful the department plans to offer it again.

“Feedback from the facilities and from the students has been outstanding,” Anderson said. “Seattle Children’s respiratory care education coordinator informed us that the Boise State Respiratory Care graduates are ‘head and shoulders above graduates of other programs.’”

Students had the opportunity to put into practice what they’ve learned and deal with various unexpected medical issues. The rotations included observing and sometimes participating in the care of patients using procedures not currently performed in the Treasure Valley, such as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) for severe pulmonary or cardiac disorders.

Alexis Morrison observed and participated in the treatment of ECMO in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Seattle Children’s Hospital at UWMC. “This is a device that involves essentially taking the blood out of a patient’s body, running it through an oxygenator and heater, and then reinserting it into the body,” she said.  “The Respiratory Care program at Boise State is exceptional at preparing us with the knowledge to be able to perform any task or treatment, so everything I observed and helped with I knew a lot about.”

Kyler Wilson also went to the UWMC, but he cared for adults in the medical/surgical and the cardiothoracic intensive care units. He said, “UWMC uses a different critical care ventilator than we do in the Valley, so it was extremely helpful to put my knowledge of that ventilator into clinical practice. My preceptors let me take the lead with most patients and helped me when I needed it. This remote clinical was the opportunity of a lifetime.”

Miah Nystrom went to Randal Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel in Portland, Oregon, caring for patients five years or younger. “I actively participated in learning disease states and how they’re treated,” she said. “It was interesting watching how the Legacy team works together in this huge hospital. In every situation, they let me get in on the action, and it was fantastic.”

Nystrom learned firsthand how exhausting 12-hour shifts can be on a daily basis. “We do eight hours twice a week n Boise, which is plenty with our strenuous school schedule, so it was nice to face reality. I was very prepared for a lot of the situations.”

After graduating this year with degrees in respiratory care, the students will take their board exams. Morrison plans to specialize in neonatal care in the Treasure Valley. Wilson hopes to land a job in Seattle, specialize in adult critical care, and pursue a master’s degree. Nystrom hopes to work in neonatal and pediatric critical care in Oregon.

By Sandy Friedly