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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Respiratory Therapist graduate finds family support is vital

September 24, 2015
Respiratory Therapy graduate Quinn McNichols
Respiratory Therapy graduate Quinn McNichols credits his wife and family with giving him the support and encouragement he needed to complete his education.

Maybe Quinn McNichols could have made it through his Respiratory Therapy program on his own. But he is glad he did not have to. His wife, Heather, was there for him every step of the way.

“My wife is the hardest working and most determined person I have known in my life,” says Quinn. “I like to emulate that, and seeing all that she has accomplished motivates me.”

As a well-trained nurse, Heather was able to hold finances together while Quinn went through the Respiratory Therapist program on the Temecula campus. When nursing positions became scarce, though, she had to take a job in Virginia for six months.

Quinn had just started school when they were forced to live apart. But they were both logical about their temporary circumstances, and encouraged each other over the miles.

Even from a distance, Heather’s support and influence could be felt. “My internal drive and the drive that my wife has given me made me want to succeed and do the best job that I could,” says Quinn.

Her return home, having secured a local nursing position, made their support system even stronger.

Straight out of high school to college, Quinn had earned his Bachelor’s degree in biology. He then worked in a bio-medical research lab for 18 months. But this job was not as entrenched in the medical field as he wanted.

“I always leaned toward medicine,” says Quinn. “I was probably first interested in medicine as a kid. I just liked how the human body worked and wanted to take care of people and know what was going on with them.” Respiratory Therapy was the close contact he was looking for.

Quinn did well in his Respiratory Therapist program, and even managed to tutor other students in math, chemistry and medical subjects. “Even business students would come in and I would help whoever needed it with whatever they needed.”

The hardest time for Quinn was a few months last year when he began his first clinical rotation at a medical center. It was a night shift, 90 minutes away from home, and he had a hard time getting used to the new clinical work/school/sleep pattern.

“I didn’t get too much sleep between work and class, and I averaged about 4 hours sleep,” he says. “Adjusting to that was probably the hardest part of the program.”

As hard as clinical rotations might have been for Quinn, they helped to resolve his new career direction. “Clinical rotations are pretty much just like working there, and I could tell that I would enjoy it and this was pretty much for me.”

After a couple of months, the routine smoothed out for Quinn and he hit his stride. He managed an impressive 3.91 GPA and was given The Founders Award, which was presented to him at graduation.

“The Founders Award is a big deal!” says Robyn Whiles, Campus Director. “It is based on Robert and Shirley Perry’s (SJVC founders) efforts within the community. Quinn’s accomplishments and service to the local community are impressive.”

Quinn has very strong ideas about how professional behavior should be expressed. “My wife is an extremely caring person,” he says. “I also want to be a really caring Respiratory Therapist. It’s not just science; it’s people skills and providing comfort.”

His parents Brian and Teri gave him that same day-to-day message, growing up. “They treated everyone they met with respect and kindness,” says Quinn. “It’s one thing anyone can do in life.”

Quinn was recently hired for his first Respiratory Therapy position serving two hospitals and is pretty excited. “I like everyone at the hospitals and feel like there is a good vibe with them; and I like what they do.”

At 25 years old, Quinn has made a nice landing after so many years of preparation. “There’s been lots of good news the last two months,” Quinn says. He and Heather have just bought a new home and life will have a chance to settle into the kind of rhythm they have worked toward.

Theirs is a bright future, always open to new adventures. Quinn takes a quick glance up the road. “Other medical fields do still interest me, and I’m still young. But I’m going to let it roll for a little while.”

Quinn and Heather will move ahead in perfect tandem no doubt.