Department of Health

The Respiratory Care Program

Mr. Brian Kellar
Health Department
Bryn Mawr Hospital
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010

Student Experiences

Michael William Sheehan

Michael Sheehan


Two years ago when I first heard of the WCU/BMH Respiratory Care Program, I was not aware of RT’s and what their role in the hospital entailed.  I have never had breathing problems or seen anyone on life support, but after some research and talking to RT’s, I decided that this profession would be one that would constantly challenge me and satisfy my desire to learn and help others.

 The program has allowed me to experience incredible things and thanks to its thorough and sometimes grueling curriculum, my time-management, critical thinking, and analytical skills have improved drastically since I started out as freshman on campus.

Training to become an RT is like training for most other jobs. I believe to properly learn how to do something, is to do it with hands on work.  Anyone can memorize data and formulas to pass a test but the ability to apply the formulas in the ‘real world’ effectively is invaluable.

The internships that most other students participate in are the equivalent to the clinical rotations that most allied health majors are required to complete. Clinical rotations for the WCU/BMH Respiratory Program required that we attend nine weeks of floor care over the summer, followed by one day a week in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in the fall, and by our last spring semester, four days a week in the ICU.  From Day One on the floors to now, I have grown into a much more confident and competent Student RT.

One of the most beneficial aspects of the program is the variety of hospitals that we are affiliated with.  From inner city to small suburban hospitals, I have been exposed to many patients and scenarios.  It was tough at first, transitioning from one hospital to another without really getting a chance to become familiar with your surroundings.  But, as time went on I learned how to adapt quickly and take bits and pieces of other RT’s methods of performing tasks and creating my own routine from them.

In conclusion, I feel that I am ready for graduation and the challenges that will be presented afterward.  Being a part of the Respiratory Care program has molded me into a more mature individual, not only from the course work, but also from the confidence gained clinically.  I would recommend this major to anyone who doesn’t shy away from a challenge and enjoys helping others.


Maria Loughead

Maria Loughead

I have truly had a positive experience in the clinical setting while being a student in the respiratory care program at West Chester University.  I have learned so much and it has awarded me the opportunity to put everything together that I have learned from the classroom and apply it to the clinical setting. 

One of the best experiences I have had was working at Lankenau Medical Center in the PFT lab and spending the week with the women in that department.  I was able to do a variety of different tasks and the week incorporated so many different things that I had learned about in the classroom such as PFT testing to include Spriometry, Methacholine Challenge, DLCO tests, and the 6 minute walk.  When lung function tests were performed on patients, I was taught how to calibrate the machine using the 3 liter syringe as well as how to read the graphs displayed on the monitor to make sure the patient was giving maximal effort and the test was being performed to meet ATS criteria.  I even had the opportunity to do a bedside PFT test.

I also spent one day of the week in the ENDO unit where patients came in on an out-patient basis to have bronchoscopies performed.  Here I learned the procedure for setting up the equipment, as well as how to apply lidocaine to the nares and also the throat.  I was able to assist the physician with the procedure itself by labeling specimens that needed to be sent to the lab.  Once the procedure was finished I was taught how to break down the equipment, sanitize it and set the equipment up for the next time it was going to be used.  In the ENDO unit we needed to wear a gown, cap, face shield and gloves to keep the environment sterile for the safety of the patients.

Overall I have really enjoyed my clinical experience.  I have learned so much in the last 2 year.