Respiratory Therapy grad tirelessly pursues RT career
Arvin Joves graduated from high school in the Philippines at age 16, and then moved to the U.S. with his mom Shirly and older brother Ariel. He kicked around for several years, working in food service and as a Direct Support Professional (home health aide), and managed to get his own place.
Restless and wanting a career in the medical field, he decided to check out the Respiratory Therapy program on the Bakersfield campus. All the dots lined up: Autonomy, financial security, medical team member and a life spent helping others. He was all in.
Arvin sat for the entrance exam…and failed. Re-test policy mandated he would have to wait six months before he could take the exam again. But he was determined to have this career. When he became eligible he took the test again. And failed. “It devastated me,” he admits.
By now, Arvin had talked with respiratory professionals in the field and had met Respiratory Therapy students and instructors at SJVC. This was right for him, and he was determined to try again.
“I wanted to pass this!” he remembers. I hadn’t had any education – General Ed classes, math and English – in 8 years. So I went to community college for four months to get a class refresher.”
The third time was the charm he needed. Arvin was in.
He was also in over his head financially, but was determined to make it work. He moved back in with his mom, and both she and Ariel helped with Arvin’s expenses. Arvin had to drop his work hours to 30 each week – still a very heavy schedule.
“It was the hardest 18 months of my life,” says Arvin. “It was partly because I was working night shifts and going to school in the morning.” Sleep deprivation was an ongoing struggle.
But none of that really mattered because Arvin was in love with his field of study and could not get enough of this medical specialty. “I wanted to be part of a medical team and work with physicians, nurses and other Respiratory Therapists, providing diagnoses, treatment and prognosis of each patient.”
Respiratory Therapy met his need to care for others. “As an RT, you are giving your time to patients to help them feel better, to have a better life; that’s just a satisfying feeling,” he says. “It feels way better than just getting a paycheck.”
Any doubts about this career fit were answered during the real-world experience at his extern site. Arvin had been caring for a man in the hospital ICU who was barely conscious and struggling to stay alive.
“When he was wide awake, I introduced myself and made a bond with that patient and his family,” says Arvin. “The day of his discharge he said, ‘Thank you, Arvin, for everything you’ve done for me to be able to see my family again and hold my son again.’ That feeling was just amazing, and I realized I’m in the right place and this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”
Arvin excelled in his Respiratory Therapist program. He volunteered for the American Lung Association’s many events and fundraisers. He graduated with a 3.85 GPA and was selected Valedictorian of his class. He credits study groups and his instructors for all the support they provided.
Kimberlee Carson and Philip Chapin were part of his study group crew, and were “the best study buddies/supporters since Day 1,” says Arvin. “I would not have been able to make it without them.”
Both Kimberlee and Philip now have great positions at major medical facilities. “That tells you what kind of training we get at SJVC,” says Arvin. “It prepares us 100%, and as soon as we graduate, we’re ready to work as a (Respiratory) therapist right off the bat.”
“Arvin was a diligent student who was always ready to volunteer, and he overcame a big obstacle to complete the program,” says Brian Ruff, Respiratory Therapy Program Director.
About that big obstacle: Just a few weeks before Arvin graduated, he broke his right arm. A cast on his dominant arm threatened to derail him from completing his education and training. Fortunately, he had met all major requirements and was able to satisfy his commitments.
Arvin graduated with honors and went to work for a major hospital in Fresno. “I look forward to going to work every single day,” he says. “The RTs here play a vital role in patient care, and doctors rely on you to modify orders for what the patient needs. We don’t just follow instructions, we’re a major contributor.”
The intensity of his responsibilities suits him just fine. “We are always the first to respond, at the head of the bed, ready to intubate patients when they stop breathing.”
As much as Arvin loves his work, he loves his reason for being there just as much. “I wanted to have a career to help her (his mom) out,” he says. “She was a single mom and made sacrifices and worked a lot of minimum wage jobs when I was a kid. She is my greatest inspiration.”
One day, Arvin plans to get his Bachelor’s degree and see where that might take him.
No doubt he can do that with one hand tied behind his back…or broken.