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This Army Veteran found his Post-Military Calling as a Respiratory Therapist

Follow your passion for a career in healthcare and make a difference.

Army veteran, Aaron Jongeneel was searching for a career as he transitioned to civilian life. He wanted something that not only focused on helping people, but also a career that would give him stability and security.  He found all that at Pima Medical. After earning his associate degree in Respiratory Therapy, he went on to earn his Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy. Jongeneel says the sky is the limit for him now.

“I got out of the US Army in 2016, took a couple of months trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up, and then began looking into the medical field. I was looking for a career that would provide job security and the accessibility to work anywhere in the country, and I wanted a profession where I helped people. Respiratory Therapy (RT) caught my eye and after a little research, I found Pima Medical Institute.

I was the second oldest person in my class and ended up helping to keep others on track. In fact, I was labeled the class dad. The program was challenging but I really enjoyed it. I had a great group of classmates. We formed a tight-knit group and my instructors laid a great foundation for us to be successful. Moving into clinicals and hands-on work requires having a little self-confidence and the boldness to ask questions. I ended up being chosen for an RT internship at UW Harborview Medical Center – Seattle’s level one trauma hospital. That internship set me up for success, as it was essentially a yearlong clinical rotation. It provided a tremendous opportunity and led to a job after graduation.

My experience in Seattle set me up for success when my wife was transferred to Phoenix and I obtained a position working at Deer Valley Hospital in North Phoenix. COVID-19 hit shortly after our move and although our level of care increased, my experience in the Army trained me to stay calm and cool as I assessed and responded. We learned about PPE in school but COVID changed the level of critical thinking required to take very deliberate steps and double check to make sure we didn’t cross contaminate. At our hospital, we actually have a single set of scrubs for our COVID patients and another set for non-COVID patients, so it’s very time consuming staying 100% clean. We also spend much time monitoring ventilator settings and carefully watching patients not on ventilators as they can crash rather quickly. On a much lighter note, one of the most traumatic impacts COVID-19 had for me on a personal level was that I had to shave off my beard, which I’d had since 2016.

I completed Pima Medical’s online Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy program in 2021.  My goal is to move into management or teaching down the road. I would certainly recommend the medical field to others looking for a career. Being an RT can be stressful at times; it’s overwhelming to be needed in two places at the same time or to deal with a code or trauma in the ER. It’s not easy, but it is very rewarding.”

Are you looking for a rewarding, and stable career path? Get started now.

November 23, 2022

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