Justin Ivie knew he wanted to have a career in a medical field long before he retired as a Senior Master Sergeant from the United States Air Force in 2015. He served as a pararescueman - a special operations combat medic - the first half of his Air Force career. He maintained his medical skills working as an emergency medical technician on weekends after moving to a human resources role in his last 10 years.
So it came as no surprise that, one week after retiring from the Air Force in the summer of 2015, he began nursing school.
"I was there for two successful semesters before deciding to modify my career path," Ivie said. "Nursing did not provide the passion I sought. My neighbor is a respiratory therapist and has been for over 30 years. I spoke to him in the winter of 2015, and he encouraged me to look into Respiratory Therapy programs."
Respiratory Therapy and Concorde
Ivie said he discovered Concorde during a routine internet search. He drove to the San Antonio campus that very day and arranged to take his entrance exams.
"The counselors and staff were amazing, very friendly and professional," Ivie said. "I also loved how they promoted their appreciation for the military. Within a day I was interviewed by the Respiratory Therapy director and given a slot in the RT cohort beginning within a week's time."
Ivie only had to take the required prerequisite courses online for the first six months because of his previous education. Once, he began his RT coursework, he never looked back, graduating with honors.
"The Respiratory Therapy staff was second to none," he said. "They prepared us over the next full year to become respiratory therapists. We listened to lectures, studied and then studied some more. Exam after the exam was met with a desire to not only pass but exceed the requirement."
Respiratory Therapy and becoming a Lamplighter
Ivie said he learned early during his military experience that you decide to become either a leader or a follower. He always gravitated toward being a leader. So, it only seemed natural that, at Concorde, he become a Lamplighter, a student ambassador that helped other students navigate school.
"Becoming a Lamplighter was nothing new," he said. "It is very important for individuals who are strong academically to help those who may struggle."
"I was afforded the opportunity to speak to incoming freshmen at multiple orientations and sit down with several classmates and help them navigate through their difficulties. I assisted with two Concorde graduations ... and was grateful for the opportunity to help where I could be of service."
Ivie was named a Lamplighter of Distinction at Concorde - San Antonio for his dedication and service. He also recently received an award for Achievement of the Highest Academic Excellence in the field of Respiratory Therapy by the Lambda Beta Society.
Working in Respiratory Therapy
Ivie became licensed in Respiratory Therapy one month after graduating and today works at a skilled nursing facility.
"We maintain patients on ventilators and those who have tracheotomies," he said. "I tremendously enjoy helping every patient breathe a little easier."
"This is a starting point, one of many paths I plan to engage. I hope to become a Life-Flight RRT, EMT-P to help the most critical in need and return to the familiar work environment of critical care."
Ivie said he'll never forget the respiratory therapist education and training he received from Concorde.