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Michael Acuna

Though Michael Acuna loved teaching music, he knew he wanted more. That prompted him to pursue his longtime dream of a career in the medical field.

“Several of my friends and family suggested I look into respiratory therapy (RT),” said Michael. “I knew a couple of people who were already in the field so I called to hear more about it.”

After learning more about the position, Michael was convinced he was meant to be a respiratory therapist. He began researching programs and found Concorde Career College, San Bernardino’s RT program.

Music to Medicine

Despite a desire to go into medicine since high school, Michael earned a business degree and then pursued music, something he became interested in after getting his first guitar in 2004.

“I was a music teacher at a local charter school,” said Michael. “It was in 2018 when I realized that even though I enjoyed teaching, I didn’t feel fulfilled. I liked helping people, but wanted to do it on a larger scale.”

Concorde’s Respiratory Therapy program satisfied that need for Michael. Every lesson learned during his classes and clinicals made him even more confident in his decision to pursue a career in the medical field. But as much as he loved RT, Michael’s passion was tested in February 2019 after losing his father and grandmother within three days of each other.

“It would have been easy to take a break at that time,” Michael said. “But my dad made me promise that I wouldn’t give up on my dream before he died.”

Michael persevered with the assistance of his instructors. Faculty from his program reached out to Michael and helped him stay focused. They unpacked concepts he had trouble understanding and some worked one-on-one with him before classes.

“My instructors at Concorde really helped me,” Michael said. “They encouraged me during the toughest of times and made sure I succeeded.”

A year later, Michael graduated from the RT program and was employed immediately after graduation.

Practicing Respiratory Therapy

Today, Michael is an on-call or per diem respiratory therapist at multiple hospitals including Kindred Hospital Ontario in Ontario, California, JFK Memorial Hospital in Indio, California and St. Bernardine Medical Center in San Bernardino, California. This role allows Michael to fill open positions at more than one hospital and work in different units.

Michael felt more than prepared when starting his job as a per diem respiratory therapist thanks to his RT program instructors.

“All of my teachers were well-versed in RT and made sure the students were as well,” said Michael. “All of the things I learned at Concorde, I do daily in the field.”

Michael is thankful for all the training he received at Concorde, especially after being hired to help in the COVID unit at JFK Memorial Hospital.

Michael worked with doctors and other hospital staff to identify the best types of treatments at the start of the pandemic and believes he began his RT career at the perfect time.

“I’m so grateful I get to help all these people during a time like today,” he said. “Concorde really prepared me and it’s because of them I can confidently treat my patients.”

Michael Acuna
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