Joining the ranks of the frontline heroes

Madison StJohn

Madison StJohn discovered the respiratory care profession while watching news coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In those reports, StJohn heard respiratory therapists described as “frontline heroes” in the medical response to the pandemic that flooded hospitals with patients, many of whom needed mechanical ventilation support provided by specially trained respiratory therapists.

“Respiratory therapists are the airway,” said StJohn, who is president of the Respiratory Care Class of 2023. “I like to describe us as the airway and that we make sure you stay breathing.”

After graduation, StJohn will be working with adults in the intensive care unit at a hospital in Kyle, Texas, the site of her first clinical rotation and where she has continued to work as a student respiratory therapist as often as possible.

One aspect of the respiratory care profession StJohn loves is the opportunity to connect with patients.

“I really like to talk with the patients and learn more about them,” she said.

StJohn chose UT Health San Antonio’s respiratory care bachelor’s program based on the strong reputation and quality of programs in the School of Health Professions and throughout UT Health San Antonio.

“I could write books on our faculty,” she said. “Every step of the way, they’ve been there.”

The School of Health Professions offers interprofessional experiences that have expanded her concept of what it means to be part of the health care team.

“There’s so much more to the team than a physician, a nurse and myself,” she said. “In all these interprofessional education activities, I got to see everyone’s roles and how mine fits. Working as a team really is so important for your patient’s health and wellbeing.”

Reflecting on her most powerful memories in the program, StJohn recalled the first day of her first clinical rotation.

“I remember being so nervous to the point I was crying to my mom on the way,” she said.

She was met with a warm welcome that turned into a job offer more than a year before graduation.

“There is always somebody along the way that has been in your shoes,” she said. “You are never alone. I am thankful I came down this path.”


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