Meet Michael Barboza, the Jacksonville RT who took a leap and is better for it

We always enjoy getting the opportunity to share success stories of our alumni. In this spotlight, we get to learn about how Michael Barboza turned a sour situation into a life-changing event. Michael graduated in the fall of 2015 from the Respiratory Therapy program at the Jacksonville campus. Let's take a look at how Michael's journey went.

How he arrived at Concorde


Michael Barboza found himself in an all too familiar spot for many adults, looking for a new job. He had just been laid off from his Product Manager job at a materials distributor company where he was in charge of lighting, electrical, and HVAC products.

One day his daughter (Amanda) asked him to join her as she went to go look at the nursing program she was interested in at Concorde-Jacksonville. As he sat with her while they reviewed all the programs offered, one stood out to him more than the others and piqued his interest, the respiratory therapy (RT) program.

Both he and his daughter have asthma, so living and dealing with respiratory issues have always been a part of life. "I mentioned to Amanda that she might enjoy being an RT and that it might be a good fit with our histories but she was really set on the nursing program".

Michael's daughter ended up enrolling in the nursing program and he ended up finding a new job in his previous field. But the thought of the RT program was still in the back of his mind, "After 90 days of being at the new job I decided that I didn't like it, and I had been talking with my wife and I decided to take a leap by starting a whole new career in respiratory therapy".

How he took the leap


While this may seem like an easy decision, it was not. "Being 50 years old and starting down a new career path was scary", Barboza says, "I was concerned that employers were going to want to hire younger people who had a longer work life left, and I also worried that it would take longer to find a job".

Despite the fears Barboza had he took the gamble and went to Concorde- Jacksonville where his daughter was in school. "I felt comfortable with Concorde since I had been through the process with my daughter and liked what I had learned about the RT program while there".

"It had been quite a while since I had graduated from college so I had to first re-take some of the prerequisites such as college algebra which helped get me back in the swing of being in school," he says. Once he finished up his prerequisites, he started his journey into the RT program.

His time in the RT program


In his first class, RT 210, his instructor Katrina Walker made a lasting impression on him. "The 210 class is the foundation class for the program", he explains, "Katrina set me up with a great foundation to build on and was very influential in my program".

Right before he started classes, his daughter decided to switch from the nursing program into the RT program with him. "It was great, I was able to have my daughter in class as a fellow RT student with me all the way through graduation".

Another impactful faculty member on Barboza's journey was former Jacksonville clinical director, Mike Hackney. "Mike was such a voice of encouragement and helped get me through the trenches so to speak", says Michael, "He always stressed the importance of professionalism and we had valuable conversations about how to navigate interviews with the career change. He really helped me get ready for post-school success".

His fears melt away


All the fears Barboza had of being too old or having a hard time finding a job right out of school were put to rest quickly as he received a job offer in the first week of his job search, at Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville. "My age ended up not being an issue at all, in fact sometimes I feel like it helps me because patients sometimes initially mistake me for the doctor or assumed I was an established RT despite my short overall experience".

When asked what is his favorite part of being a RT is Barboza is quick to point out that it's a little personal, "having asthma all my life and knowing what it's like to have difficulty breathing, I really enjoy being able to help those who have similar issues" he explains, "I also really enjoy the education part of it because I get the opportunity to help people understand exactly what is wrong and how to best deal with it to make it more manageable".

His advice for students


His advice for fellow alumni and current students is, "always remain teachable and be open to learning whatever comes your way. I wanted to be a fully well rounded RT, able to do anything and everything so I asked to learn more. Because of that, I have had the opportunity to learn about all areas in the hospital such as ER, trauma, intensive care unit, cardiovascular intensive care, bronchoscopy and more".

"A positive attitude, always being motivated to be the best, and asking lots of questions can help you succeed" Barboza explains, "I get the opportunity to precept current Concorde students at Memorial (hospital) because we are an externship site, and during shifts I stress to them that the program and job require a lot of work and they may use everything they learn".

He goes on to say, "it's never too early to start preparing for your boards, get yourself prepared and keep all the information you get from school. I still have mine and use it often to look things up".

The leap paid off


Michael's journey to becoming an RT is anything but typical, but taking a leap has paid off for him and his family. "I'm glad I decided to go with my daughter for her visit to Concorde because it has set up a whole new life for me I hadn't planned on," he says. He thoroughly enjoys his job and is thankful he choose to pursue the RT program at Concorde- Jacksonville.

If becoming a Respiratory Therapist is something you have been thinking about, or you've been thinking about a career in health care- Concorde can help you discover ways to transform your life. Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you!

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