Third time’s the charm

By Lindsey Blisard

Whether Shane Rodgers is fighting fires, giving CPR or intubating a patient, saving lives has always been on his daily agenda, and as a respiratory therapy student at Texas State University, Rodgers is discovering his new role as a part of his third career move.

In his adult life, Rodgers has done many things. He started in the Air Force, worked as a registered nurse when he was in his early 20s, and became a firefighter before he turned 30. Now, as a retired firefighter, he is ready for his next move: to become a respiratory therapist.

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Rodgers instructing nursing assistant students on chest compressions. Photo by Lindsey Blisard/Global News Team

“I don’t want to just totally retire,” he said. “I don’t necessarily want to work full time anymore, but I want to go back to school and just have that experience of only going to school.”

After weighing his options of what to go back to school for, Rodgers decided on respiratory therapy. It was something new and specialized enough to have a different feel from nursing. He has always had jobs that helped people, whether they were his patients or not, and this career move is not any different.

Rodgers said he wants to work part-time in a field that he still cares about. He was most excited about being a full-time student for the first time, since he had to work through nursing school when he was younger.

“I just wanted to go to school, study in the library, and be like a normal student,” he said. 

Rodgers, his wife, and two daughters live in Cedar Park, Texas. He has been doing his hospital rotations as the end of his days as a student go by. He has done his clinicals and internships in different hospitals and medical centers in the greater Austin area and will be ending his school year at the Cedar Park Regional Medical Center.

Rodgers said he prefers to be a general respiratory therapist so he can travel around the hospital and not be confined to just one area. He hopes he can continue to work in Cedar Park after he graduates in May. 

Recently, Rodgers went to Guyana with a group of four other respiratory therapy students and his professor, Sharon Armstead. There they delivered treatment and teachings to two hospitals in the country–Georgetown Public Hospital and Linden Hospital Complex.

Armstead calls Rodgers her “quiet leader” and said he showed so much concern in the hospital, yet remained calm with a strong presence in every room. She hopes that all of her students, including Rodgers, find their confidence of being a respiratory therapist within themselves.

“I want them to stay in the career… and see the value in their profession,” Armstead said. “I hope that [Rodgers] enjoys the passion that respiratory therapy can give you.”

After watching Rodgers working in the hospital, Armstead noted that what he excelled at was the teaching moments he had with the medical staff and even nursing assistant students.

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Rodgers working alongside Armstead in adjusting a patients ventilator tubing. Photo by Lindsey Blisard/Global News Team

Amber Hazelett, a newly registered respiratory therapist, went along with the Texas State students to Guyana and was there to provide support and instruction to the students and hospital staff. She was in the emergency room for a great part of the first day in Georgetown Public and worked alongside Rodgers.

“I do feel like Shane is ready to be a respiratory therapist,” said Hazelett. “He seems very prepared.”

When Rodgers thinks about the future for himself as a respiratory therapist, he said his and his family’s dream is to explore more of the world and take their careers with them. He and his wife are both in the medical field and they hope they can find work either abroad or travel to the east and west coasts with their children. 

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