Discover the Respiratory Care Profession, Open House Oct. 5 and 6

Discover the Respiratory Care Profession, Open House Oct. 5 and 6

In the bustle of intensive care units, they are there, assisting with everything from open heart surgeries to trauma patients. They stand at bedsides, caring for patients with everything from asthma to cystic fibrosis. They see people through every stage of their lives, from the neonatal unit to the pulmonary clinic. They are respiratory therapists.

Get hands-on experience with procedures

Want to try a day in their life? On both Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 5 and 6, Santa Fe College’s Respiratory Care Program will  hold an Open House from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. in Building W, rooms 49 and 50, to simulate the everyday experiences of a respiratory therapist.

There, visitors will be able to slide intubation tubes down the throats of mannequins, practice drawing blood through arterial puncture, and learn to handle mechanical ventilators. Attendees can even take a pulmonary function test, used to diagnose lung diseases ranging from bronchitis to emphysema.

“People enjoy it. Usually the students are very enthusiastic, and they really enjoy getting their hands on the equipment,” said Leah Carlson, clinical coordinator of Santa Fe’s Respiratory Care Program. “Many of our current students still talk about the time when they came to open house.”

Students from the Respiratory Care Program’s 2011 class actually host the event, sharing their experiences and staffing tables and displays. The hands-on demonstrations performed at the open house mirror the labs the students do in class. Santa Fe’s classroom faculty and clinical instructors will also be present to help counsel prospective respiratory therapy students.

The Open House is not only meant to interest people in the program but to educate about respiratory health as well. On hand will be a set of animal lungs, displaying the effects of smoking-related diseases.

“We will be showing the stark contrast between beautiful, pink, healthy lungs and dark, heavy, diseased lungs,” said Paul Stephan, program director.

Every fall and spring semester, this open house attracts anywhere from 200 to 300 visitors from a variety of backgrounds. Event organizers have even invited kids from Gainesville High School’s Health Academy.

“What we hope for is a greater awareness of practitioners and the role they play in the healthcare community. We also want to increase awareness of the program here at Santa Fe for entering into that profession,” said Stephan.

Respiratory Care Program

Santa Fe’s 18-month Respiratory Care program is one of several healthcare tracks not offered by the University of Florida, making it unique to the region. Upon completion, students are awarded an Associate of Science Degree. Each year, the program selects 30 new students into its program from a pool of about 70 applicants, all of whom must have completed standard college pre-requisites before applying.

The competition for a spot in the program stems partly from Santa Fe students’ high hiring and passing rates. One hundred percent of June 2010 graduates were placed in jobs, and Santa Fe exceeds the national average for graduates who have passed their national board exams.

Employment outlook

In addition, aspiring respiratory therapists can breathe a little easier knowing that employment for their field is expected to grow by 21 percent from 2008 to 2018. As of 2009, the Bureau of Labor Statistics counted 107,270 people in the profession, earning a mean annual salary of $54,200.

“If you want a dynamic field, respiratory therapists work in all kinds of intensive care situations. There’s a lot you can do, depending on your personality,” said Carlson. “You go to work, and you feel like you’ve done something. It’s very fulfilling.”

For more infomrmation about the Respiratory Care pogram at Santa Fe College, contact Leah Carlson at 352-395-5683 or go online to

~ This press release was written by Allison Griner, Communication Specialist, College Relations


  • Paul Stephan (352-395-5706 or or Leah Carlson (352-395-5683 or for more information about the Respiratory Care Program and open house
  • Julie Garrett, for help facilitating your story, 352-395-5430 (office) or 352-870-2924 (cell) or