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YCP@Work: Courtney Miller, Respiratory Therapist

October 26, 2020
A close-up faceless image of a respiratory therapist in scrubs holding a nebulizer mask and tubing
Courtney (Palla) Miller '16

Courtney (Palla) Miller graduated from York College and WellSpan York Hospital’s joint respiratory care program in December 2016. She is currently a registered respiratory therapist at York Hospital’s pulmonary physiology lab. 

What made you choose to pursue a degree in respiratory care? 

Courtney Miller: I wanted a job in healthcare that would allow me to have direct patient care. I realized after a shadowing experience that I did not want to be a nurse, and respiratory therapy seemed like a perfect fit for me when I compared the two. I have a history of asthma in my family, and my grandmother has severe COPD, so this career has given me a great advantage in understanding and caring for these conditions. 

How have you used your York College education since graduating?

CM: I use my York College education every day in my work as a RRT. The skills and knowledge my professors instilled in me during school allows me to easily complete the tasks of my daily work life. I completed my Master's of Professional Studies degree in Homeland Security: Public Health Preparedness [at Penn State Hershey]. My professors at YCP set me up for success, and seeing their successes inspired me to seek employment at a university medical center and take that leap to complete my master's degree. 

What is most challenging about a career in respiratory care? 

CM: My first two years after graduating, I spent working at Penn State Hershey in the children's hospital. Seeing sick children fight for their lives was encouraging, but also devastating when they did not win their battle. This career has given me a great perspective into quality of life and for that I am grateful. 

What do you like best about your career in respiratory care? 

CM: I love that there are so many job opportunities available to us as RRTs to suit a variety of tastes. My first three years as a therapist, I worked in a regular department with inpatient care. With this position, I mainly administered respiratory treatments and therapies, worked in the ICU with ventilators and transport of vented patients. 

Recently, I took a position in the pulmonary physiology lab at York Hospital. This is a team of 12 therapists who complete diagnostic procedures alongside pulmonary physicians in both the inpatient and outpatient setting. No matter what type of environment you thrive best in, you can find a position to suit in respiratory therapy. 

What advice would you have for a new respiratory care student? 

CM: Take advantage of all your clinical rotations by participating fully and understand that your career desires may change over time. Taking a job at PSU Hershey for my first two years was one of the best decisions I made. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to experience intensive care in a way that I couldn't in a smaller hospital. York College set me up with a good foundation to be a shining therapist wherever I may choose to go. 

 

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