Carolyn Wallace didn’t start out in Respiratory Therapy, but she couldn’t be more grateful it’s where she ended up.
Wallace, a Bellarmine University respiratory therapy alumna who has worked at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital since 2010 and is now the Clinical Supervisor for Pediatric Bronchoscopy, said Bellarmine’s program set her up for a career she’s loved.
“I’d do it all over again. I’m happy in the profession and I don’t worry about its future,” she said. “Bellarmine’s professors made me the respiratory therapist I am today. I don’t think I would have done as well at a bigger school. I only have positive things to say about Bellarmine and the path I chose.”
Wallace graduated high school in 2002 unsure what she wanted to do. She ended up earning her first degree in Culinary Arts. While she had a passion for cooking, it didn’t feel like the right career fit.
She had a deep connection to Bellarmine through her mother, Dr. Joan Masters, who taught nursing for three decades. She considered following her mother’s footsteps into nursing until she spoke with Dr. Christy Kane, Dean of the Donna and Allan Lansing School of Nursing and Clinical Sciences and a respiratory therapist. Kane explained the practice of respiratory therapy and it clicked for Wallace.
“I knew I’d found the right career path; I absolutely loved it,” she said.
She knew Bellarmine offers one of the nation’s top-ranked respiratory therapy programs, so she enrolled. Bellarmine has a Bachelor of Health Science in Respiratory Therapy degree and a Master of Health Science in Respiratory Therapy degree. The entry-level Respiratory Therapy graduate program is one of only six in the nation. As an entry-to-practice program, no prior healthcare experience is required for admission to the master’s program.
College Choice and Intelligent.com both rank Bellarmine’s Respiratory Therapy undergraduate degree as the best in the nation.
Wallace said she loved Bellarmine’s small class sizes and the hands-on clinical experiences.
“It’s an awesome program; I felt very prepared,” she said.
A classmate recommended Cincinnati Children’s Hospital as a place to work. She did a job shadow there and landed a job immediately after graduating.
“This is where I call home,” she said. “I really love it here.”
She currently works with pediatric patients with airway and lung abnormalities who require diagnostic or therapeutic interventions. Working closely with pulmonary and otolaryngology, she runs the day-to-day operations of the largest pediatric bronchoscopy program in the country.
“We do some great work here,” she said. “I’m really proud of where I work.”
The demand for respiratory therapy has only grown since Wallace began her career, a trend that promises to hold.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 23 percent employment growth for respiratory therapists between 2020 and 2030. In that period, an estimated 31,100 jobs will likely become available.
“There will never be a job shortage,” Wallace said. “The pay is very competitive.”
She encouraged people considering the field to keep an open mind about what ways they could apply respiratory therapy, as the field is so flexible.
“The future is incredibly bright; having a job is never going to be an issue,” she said.