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SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine – Students studying respiratory therapy at Southern Maine Community College are getting some valuable on-the-job training because of the coronavirus.
SMCC says eight students from their respiratory therapy program are assisting veteran therapists at Maine Medical Center because of the coronavirus, something the students say is both scary and meaningful.
Erin Ganga is an SMCC student trainee and says the college has gotten her ready to deal with the coronavirus.
“I think they prepared us not only tactically, but even just clinically,” Ganga said.
Like Ganga, Maddie Cole says helping respiratory therapists in the field teaches her skills she may not have learned in the classroom.
“Initially, it was a little bit intimidating to see all this stuff coming together so quickly, but in a way it’s a good way to learn by getting thrown into something,” Cole said.
Both students say the coronavirus has put a spotlight on respiratory therapists and how valuable they are.
“I know that most, until this happened, most people didn’t know what we were, or who we were or what we did, and I’m really glad that our profession has come out of the shadows,” Cole said.
The professors at SMCC say their students are making a difference.
“I’m very proud of them, they are working hard, they’re asking how they can help, they are proud of their profession that they chose,” respiratory therapist and SMCC RT Program Director Kathy Roy-Gosselin said.
Roy-Gosselin says while the students aren’t dealing with COVID-19 patients themselves, they are assisting the respiratory therapists who are on the front line by delivering medications and performing breathing treatments.
“Just assisting and alleviating some of the jobs and duties of the respiratory therapists so that they can work and focus more on those critical care areas,” Roy Gosselin said.
The college says they are also looking at ways their first-year students can help out.
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