From Sales to Serving Others – How an SJVC Instructor Became a Healthcare Hero
Brian Dodero once had a successful career in real estate. The industry was rapidly expanding, offering many ambitious realtors the opportunity to connect families with their dream home. He had a talent for understanding clients and could relate to their struggles. He understood their desire to own a part of the American Dream. However, housing prices eventually peaked in 2006 and the housing bubble had burst. The resulting recession left many realtors, including Brian, in search of a new career.
While Brian was searching for a new career, he wanted to make sure he found one that offered more security. He also wanted to find something that was rewarding. This is what lead him to the healthcare industry, the classroom, and eventually the hospital where he was profiled by CBS Los Angeles news regarding the work he was doing to support COVID-19 patients in a piece titled “Respiratory Therapists In Demand During Coronavirus Outbreak.” But we’ll come back to that.
Brian was never a stranger to the healthcare profession. His mother was a nurse for more than 35 years and also had a talent for understanding customers…or patients in her case. She was an exceptional nurse and an inspiration while he was growing up. He would hear stories about all the wonderful work she was doing, but he knew it was never easy.
And it wasn’t easy for Brian either. He had left the real estate profession as a single dad in his mid-thirties with three young daughters under the age of 10. He knew he couldn’t just give up. If he were to start over again in a completely different industry, he had to do it right. That is what lead him to the Respiratory Therapy program at SJVC Ontario.
The program, which recently received the Distinguished RRT Credentialing Success Award from the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC), was known throughout the community for producing talented yet motivated graduates. Brian knew that respiratory therapists play a critical role in patient care, so he decided to pursue that career path and began his education in 2012.
Immediately after graduating the program he secured his first job at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles, a world-class academic medical center that admits roughly 12,500 patients and handles more than 74,000 outpatient visits every year. This includes more than 2,500 deliveries and 6,000 surgeries performed annually in 32 surgical suites. Yet on his very first day Brian knew that he had finally found his path in life. All the hard work and studying really paid off. He knew this was the right profession.
After some time at the hospital, Brian began working at Keck Medicine of USC, an academic medical center that attracts the world’s top physicians and researchers. This was an excellent opportunity to gain some additional experience. After almost four years at Keck Medicine he was promoted to Senior Respiratory Therapist, where he continues to care for patients. Then after an additional six years he decided to continue his professional development, which lead him to teaching students as well.
While Brian was a student, he appreciated the work of his clinical instructors. He even hoped to someday give back to the field that changed his life. Helping to mold the next generation of respiratory therapists through education has always been an interest. So after years of working in the field he applied to SJVC Ontario as a Respiratory Therapy Clinical Instructor, where he would be able to work with students while they’re on clinical rotations and provide them with hands-on experience.
Brian had successfully changed career paths by completing his education and securing a position at a leading Southern California hospital. He would also be able to inspire students with the same passion that helped him find success in pursuing a new career. Everything was really starting to come together! Then there was the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak…
Respiratory Therapists play a critical role in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. They are in the middle of the outbreak managing ventilators and assisting with intubations. Their expertise in assessing blood gases, assisting with bronchoscopies, and specializing in ventilator management often exposes them to the sickest patients and dangerous aerosolizing procedures. The majority of procedures they perform occur at the head of the patient’s bed, putting them at a high risk for infection. Though this didn’t stop Brian from wanting to help patients who were beginning to enter the hospital at an alarming rate.
“We’re trying to make sure we take care of these patients as quickly as possible,” said Brian. “One of the things we’re trying to do is make sure we intubate as quickly as possible because these patients are struggling to breath and we’ll often see their health go downhill quickly.”
Intubation is considered drastic and invasive. It’s not a comfortable procedure for the patient and as a respiratory therapist, Brian is just inches away when patients clear, cough or gas. He also has to understand what they’re going through and how to communicate with someone who is both incredibly sick and extremely frightened.
“We have to put a tube into a patient’s throat which goes down into their trachea,” added Brian. “We then have to put them on a mechanical ventilator which does the breathing for the patient.” This can be a challenging, yet vital procedure for the patient.
“We had one patient who was really struggling, but this was particularly alarming because he was a similar age as me and despite being in good shape, he was really sick and having difficulty breathing,” said Brian. “We started with some simple techniques like prone positioning, but eventually moved on to more aggressive measures and ended up putting him on a ventilator for roughly 17 days. It wasn’t medicine that saved his life, it was strictly ventilator management and he finally recovered,” added Brian. “We were able to make a huge impact on his life and that was incredibly inspirational.”
To this day, Brian continues to work with patients when he’s not busy educating the next generation of respiratory therapists. He remains committed to all his students and wants to make sure they’re prepared when the time comes for them to help their communities and find professional success.
Here is a link to Brian’s story on CBS Los Angeles news: Respiratory Therapists In Demand During Coronavirus Outbreak
Learn more about SJVC’s Respiratory Therapy program.
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