Graduate Spotlight - Respiratory Care

Graduate moves out of the cubicle

resp-StriblingRenee Stribling worked in accounting for 12 years before outsourcing took her job away. But she doesn’t miss that cubicle or the 9 a.m to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday schedule one bit. In fact, she’s found that interacting with patients as a respiratory care practitioner and having a schedule that gives her days off during the week suit her and her family just fine.

When she first contemplated a new career in health care, she thought nursing would be the thing. Later, she realized there are lots of other choices out there.

“I signed up for nursing because it seemed to be the thing to do,” she said. “I didn’t know about other health care careers.”

Once she found out about respiratory care, she sat her children down and told them they’d be seeing less of her for the next couple of years.

“I’m a single mom, and it was going to take a lot of dedication to get through the program, I knew,” she said. “That meant they spent a lot of time at Grandma’s. In the end, they knew it was the best thing for us.”

When she graduated, Stribling hoped she had the skills she needed to succeed on the job at St. Francis. “I was nervous and I wondered at times if I was ready. But when I passed my boards, I realized I did get everything I needed from Greenville Tech.”

Knowing that she now has the means to take good care of herself and her children means a lot. “I can easily support my family on my own now,” she said. “We had to sacrifice for a couple of years, but it was worth it.”

Her advice to other single moms? Go for it. “A lot of people say I can’t. I have kids. I can’t afford it. Greenville Tech can make it happen,” she said.

Designing career path that fits

resp-SmithCourtney Smith started out her college career by earning an associate degree in graphic design, but it was in her last semester that she found her true calling. A health care course was part of her graphic arts curriculum, and Smith really enjoyed it. She considered a nursing major and even gave that a try, but it was the respiratory area that caught her attention, so she decided to specialize by enrolling in Greenville Technical College’s Respiratory Care program.

Rather than wishing she’d known all along what she wanted to do, Smith is grateful for the path she took. “It was just an evolution I had to go through, figuring out what I really wanted to do.”

The respiratory program was difficult at first, but gradually, she got the hang of it. “That first semester was pretty hard because you’re just learning the basics,” she said. “It was hard to get through because you’re not in a clinical setting so you’re not hands-on yet. Once you get through the first semester, you’re in the hospital and you’re working with patients.”

Smith’s advice to others is to finish the degree you start, even if you find something you’re more suited to along the way. Having a fall back degree is an advantage, she said.

“I recommend finishing out a program. If it’s not for you, you know that if you get into something else, you have another degree to fall back on. And now, graphic design has helped me understand computers, so I can catch on easily when it comes to patient charting.”