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CVTC Faculty, Alumni in Respiratory Society Leadership

Dustin Goodman found his calling in life when he sat by the hospital bedside of his mother’s best friend as she struggled to breathe due to primary pulmonary hypertension. Despite the best efforts of her doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists, she was unable to recover and died in 2010, two years before Goodman graduated from Fall Creek High School.

Today, Goodman is a respiratory therapist (RT) and a specialist in ECMO - extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, the treatment his mother’s friend received from the RT’s who cared for her. Goodman is also vice president of the Wisconsin Society for Respiratory Care, a position he was elected to shortly after he graduated from Chippewa Valley Technical College’s Respiratory Therapy program.

Goodman is not alone as a CVTC alumnus in a leadership position in WSRC. Kirsten Holbrook, a 2012 CVTC graduate from Eau Claire, is one of two delegates for the WSRC, along with CVTC Respiratory Therapy Instructor Theresa Meinen. They represent Wisconsin at the national level on respiratory care issues.

Another CVTC graduate, Rachel Wagner, is the membership chair for the WSRC and sits on the board for the annual bi-state conference with Minnesota. Wagner is employed at Mayo Clinic Health System in EC. In addition, Instructor Don Raymond is on the WSRC board as the District One representative.

“I think they ultimately fell in love with respiratory therapy,” Raymond said of his former students. “Kirstin, Rachael and Dustin have been tremendously involved.”

Goodman and Holbrook affirm their love for the profession has led to their WSRC involvement.

“My decision to go to CVTC for Respiratory Therapy came down to being able to do ECMO,” Goodman said. “I’ve always found heart and lungs to be more interesting.”

“On the sickest patients, sometimes we put them on heart/lung bypass and oxygenated their blood for them,” Meinen explained about ECMO. “RT’s usually do this.”

After his CVTC 2016 graduation, Goodman worked at UW Heath, became a specialist in neonatal pediatrics and received his ECMO training. Today he works as a “traveler,” an RT who works for an agency and is assigned to different hospitals for periods of time. His current assignment is in a COVID-19 unit in the Twin Cities.

“I can say that I truly love what I do,” Goodman said. “My passion for RT has pushed me to be involved at a board level with WSRC, and I’m in my second term. The role is eye-opening for me. It refreshes me. It’s given me some unique opportunities.”

Already with an impressive resume at age 26, Goodman says he can see himself in a role as the director of RT at a major hospital, but he would still want patient care to be part of his duties.

“One of the scariest things that happens to people is when they can’t breathe,” Holbrook said. “When things go bad, we’re the ones they call. The things we add to the healthcare team are so valued.”

Holbrook, who enrolled at CVTC after an 11-year career as a paralegal, added that many people don’t even know that RT’s are in hospitals. Many times, the only time one is on hand to care to them is when they are under anesthesia during surgery. “They don’t know you’ve been ‘bagging’ them the whole time,” she said, referring to one therapy method.

Holbrook took a position with Mayo Clinic Health System after graduation. She’s now supervises a team of 17 RT’s on the night shift.

“COVID-19 has put a spotlight on us,” Holbrook said. “Everyone was talking about ventilators, and we run the ventilators.”

Meinen and Raymond founded the CVTC Respiratory Therapy program, which graduated its first class in 2006. They became involved in WSRC shortly after, and have encouraged their graduates to become involved every year after that. They are proud that CVTC graduates and faculty have such large roles in WSRC.

“They were all really good students, and we know them very well, Meinen said. “I talk to all of them every week. They are amazing.”