Little-known program finds students jobs

Posted at 7:37 AM, Jul 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-07 07:37:57-04

Six months ago James Starkey, of Ann Arbor, didn't think he'd be back in a classroom.

"I was an engineer for CSX railroads for 5 years so i drove trains" Starkey said.

He says his life became too predictable, "it was like, I want to change my life and the direction I'm going in" said Starkey.

So he did just that. He quit his job and went back to school, for a field he says is his calling.

He wanted to join the medical field.

After a hospital visit with his grandmother he knew he needed to change the trajectory of his life, "I was just blown away by how wonderful the nurses, the doctors, it was like an epiphany, it clicked."

So he strapped in and joined an intensive respiratory program at Jackson College.

"They don't go to the hospital and spend weeks and weeks talking" program director, Dr. Ann Flint said. "They go to the hospital and the first day they're doing things."

Each year Dr. Flint teaches two groups of students, one with first years and the other with returners, about becoming a respiratory therapist.

They focus on resuscitating and saving lives for those with respiratory complications.

And after two years in the accelerated course, "they graduate, they get promoted and they make more than $20 an hour" Flint said. "So their salary is a little more than $50,000 a year."

Her program has a 100 percent graduation rate, a perfect employer satisfaction rate, and all of them land jobs all before getting their Associates degree.

"Employers are calling me constantly to ask me for more graduates," Dr. Flint said. Yet she isn't able to deliver the need because not too many people know the field exists.

And she says shows like Grey's Anatomy and E.R. are to blame.

"Most of the knowledge people get about medical careers is from TV shows and in TV shows we don't exist" but she's hoping her students help change that.

Since the start of the program in 2006 all of Flint's students have graduated and landed successful jobs.