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Facing the Frontline


We set out to help create a culture of student success. We realized that to empower our graduates, we had to model the behavior we expect and re-ignite the passion that brought us all to the teaching profession. We accepted the challenge to grow and support our students as we watched them gain the skills needed to become qualified healthcare professionals. Our capacity for resilience and tenacity was never more evident than the day we were tasked to change our educational delivery system overnight. I am immensely proud of a team that finds solutions and not problems. Thank you for your part in saving lives through embracing adversity. We celebrate your selfless dedication to the calling that puts our graduates on the frontline of healthcare excellence.

Kim Cook, Regional Director of Clinical & Career Success, American Career College

Let me share a colleague’s story:

Today the role of the respiratory therapist couldn’t be more vital. Respiratory therapists lead the way against pulmonary insult and are responsible for delivering aerosolized medications, airway management, lung expansion therapy and oxygen while responding to every code blue resuscitation. Nobody is more competent at managing a ventilator, a hazardous, life-threatening task if not done appropriately. More importantly, a ventilator is the most utilized life-saving intervention for this current crisis.

Richard Villanueva
Richard Villanueva

I am completely immersed in this pandemic. Every day is nerve-racking and exhausting. The stress never leaves. I dream about my days. Was my mask on right? Did I disinfect my equipment properly? Did I wash my hands long enough? Am I taking it home to my loved ones?

I have had COVID-19 positive patients vomit on me, cough on me, self-extubate which requires me to hurry into the room and re-intubate before their heart stops. I have done tracheostomies, bronchoscopies, invasive pulmonary procedures and intubations on infected patients and “Yes”, I am afraid. I am aware I will probably get this disease. I am aware that I may die.

But another side of me cherishes my role as an RRT, didactic and clinical instructor. I love that I will be face to face with this virus and I am there to kill it. I am proud to honor my duty to society. I voluntarily go to work, fear aside and head into battle with my fellow respiratory therapists, nurses and physicians.

Never in my life have I seen so much love, dedication and team-work as we fight this battle. Fear is eliminated by the support of my amazing co-workers. It is easy to be frightened, but I imagine how I would feel if one of my loved ones were admitted to a hospital full of people afraid to care for them. I will not be that practitioner. As our firefighters run into burning homes and our police officers run into gunfire, we will fight this deadly infection. It is my pleasure to teach the next generation of Respiratory therapists. I have faith that together, we will weather this storm.

Richard Villanueva
RRT-NPS-ACCS, Eisenhower Health
Didactic & Clinical Instructor, American Career College, Ontario



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