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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Family Support Helps Respiratory Therapist Realize Career Dreams

August 25, 2020

Family Support Helps Respiratory Therapist Realize Career DreamsSometimes it takes a village to get where you need to be in life; and that village is often your immediate family. Ciera Holm leaned on that truth when, as a young wife and mother, she decided to go back to school to become a Respiratory Therapist.

“Trying to juggle having a family and focusing on school was a struggle,” she remembers of her accelerated Respiratory Therapy program on SJVC’s Bakersfield campus. “I was an all-day student and was supposed to study 4-hours a night, but with a husband and toddler, it was kind of difficult.” Ciera’s husband, Robin, sometimes worked 48-hour shifts as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).

Fortunately, her grandparents, Lynn and Gary, were there to help. “My grandmother watched my daughter (Evelie) while I was at school every day and made dinner,” says Ciera. “My grandpa was always there to help us with whatever we needed. They were probably the main reason I made it through the program.”

 

It was not the first time. In 2014 Ciera completed SJVC’s Surgical Technology program, and her grandparents were a big part of her emotional support team that encouraged her to do well in her studies and invest in a worthwhile career.

 

“My grandpa has always been there for everyone; he’s the rock of our family,” says Ciera. “He always tells me to just work hard and never give up until I reach my goals. I’ve always taken that to heart.”

She enjoyed her career as a Surgical Technician, but felt her true calling was in Respiratory Care. “I was attracted to the Respiratory Therapy field and have an aunt who is an RT I’d been talking to about it for a while,” says Ciera. “I’d always wanted to work in NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) and couldn’t do that as a Surgical Technician.”

 

She made the decision to switch careers to Respiratory Therapy, and her go-to support team was in place for the intense schedule ahead. “I pretty much knew what to expect; it was an accelerated program and you had to keep yourself on track because things go by pretty fast.”

Ciera hit her stride with confidence. “The best thing about the program was definitely the experience of being in clinicals (externship with medical facilities),” she says. “Our teachers were just amazing and supportive of everyone. They were understanding if we had trouble with anything.”

 

With her husband’s support and help from family, Ciera completed her Respiratory Therapy program and passed the exam to become a Registered Respiratory Therapist in November 2019.

“There were a lot of times I felt overwhelmed and wondered if I was doing the right thing,” she remembers. “I reminded myself that when I finished school it would make for a much better future for my family. It was well worth the struggles and stress, and I don’t regret it one bit.”

 

Before she even graduated, Ciera was offered a position with Duke University Hospital in North Carolina. She and Robin have family on the East coast, so were thrilled to relocate closer to them. They started their new lives there in January.

Not long after starting her new position at Duke University Hospital, the coronavirus began to infiltrate the U.S. state-by-state. North Carolina is among those affected, but not inundated with cases. “I’m on the pediatric side of the hospital, infant care and neonatal ICU, so I haven’t worked with it very much,” says Ciera. “It’s very relieving knowing I don’t have to be as close to it as some of my co-workers are – especially with my daughter at home.”

Hospital safety protocol is in place. “We don’t go into the same break room (as those working with CoVid-19 patients), and we’re trying to prevent too many people from being in the break room at the same time.”

There is a strong sense of healthcare teamwork amid the threat of this world-wide pandemic. “My coworkers are amazing and it’s really nice to be able to work with people like that,” says Ciera.

Ciera’s grandfather’s advice reminds her why she is where is at this moment in time. “I remind myself that things happen for a reason and that everything is a learning experience.” That experience will further her long-term plan. “My only goal is to become part of the core team in the NICU.”

Ciera is combining her knowledge and ambition with extraordinary experience to meet her career vision.

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