Student Perspective: Jess Satterlee

student perspective graphic

Jess Satterlee, from the Des Moines Area Community College in Ankeny, Iowa, reflects on what inspired her to pursue the respiratory care career path. For Satterlee, experiences and mentors fueled her ever-developing passion for respiratory care. She believes students are the future—the ‘seeds’ to grow the profession.

Forever Growing in Respiratory Care

By Jess Satterlee

photo of Satterlee at AARC Congress 2017, standing with large #AARC sign
Satterlee at AARC Congress 2017

A few years ago, I had just earned my bachelor’s degree in psychology and knew right away I did not see myself doing that forever. I was still young and knew going back to school to be in health care was the right thing to do. Just like many students, I jumped into this profession not knowing what exactly respiratory therapy consisted of. After a little research, I knew right away respiratory therapy was where I needed to be. I loved the idea of being a part of a ‘specialized’ healthcare team and the fact that you are able to work in many different areas of the hospital. The thrill of the unknown is what excites me the most about this field.

Shortly after starting my first semester, I soon realized that being involved in the AARC was going to offer me many opportunities throughout my career. Past AARC president, Kerry George, RRT, RRT-ACCS, MEd, my programs director and professor, had spoken to my class many times about joining and all the benefits that came with a student membership. The one thing that stood out to me was the discount student members receive on the Therapist Multiple Choice Exam. In addition to the discount, I have used my membership as a resource for class. Many articles are written by AARC members which help me to understand different concepts in respiratory care.

Kerry George has a great deal of this passion for respiratory care and soon enough that same passion dwindled down to me after becoming a member of the AARC. He was able to show me that becoming a respiratory therapist was more than just a job or a career but a lifestyle; and to keep this profession going we need to be involved, even as students.

My professor Amy Boeckmann, BS, RRT, MPH, who is also very active in our national and state organization, forwarded our class an email about applying to become a Student Delegate for HOD at Summer Forum in Tucson, Arizona. I applied and was accepted to be the first Iowa student to attend HOD as a student delegate. Checking into the hotel room, I still wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into, but was excited for what was to come.

On the night of check in there was a meet-and-greet for the HOD. I was amazed at how welcoming everyone was to the students. State delegates were excited to have students there and wanted us to experience as much as we could. I was able to have conversations with many different members from across the country throughout the night. Getting to know these AARC members made me realize that becoming a member meant more than just paying yearly dues. You become a lifelong member of a ‘family.’

On the first day of the HOD meeting, President Brian Walsh stopped by a group of us students and said, “You are the seeds that we are planting. We will not be here to watch that tree grow, it is up to you to keep that tree growing. You are the future of this profession.” The fact that the president went out of his way and said something so inspiring literally gave us butterflies.

Throughout the next couple days, I sat between Iowa’s two delegates, Julie Jackson and Gary Smith. The meeting consisted of many conversations about different measures to support the profession. I could not believe how much revolved around respiratory students as a whole. After the meeting, delegates took the information back to their state societies.

Attending the HOD meeting was an experience that was SO rewarding. This experience increased my passion for respiratory care and gave me more than I could ever imagine. By the end of the week, I could not wait for the winter AARC Congress Convention & Exhibition. After the meeting, I was able to come back and tell my story to my class. Six months later, two of my classmates were selected as HOD student delegates for Congress.

Since the HOD meeting, I have continued to be a very active student in the IaSRC, looking forward to pursuing a board position one day. Becoming a member helped me gain unimaginable leadership skills and a strong passion for respiratory care.

For you, a student in respiratory therapy…

This profession is forever growing and it is up to us students to keep it going. We are the future. We are the seeds.

Tip: Right now your bucket is full, by the time graduation comes that bucket should be empty. Give these years everything you have.

Currently, Jess Satterlee is a second-year student at Des Moines Area Community College in Ankeny, Iowa, and is expected to graduate in August 2019. She is the class president and works at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines, Iowa as a respiratory therapy tech. Satterlee hopes to become a successful RRT specializing in NICU/PICU. Her overall career goal is to work in the emergency department/trauma.

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