workNet DuPage helps Janelle become a Respiratory Therapist

We congratulate Janelle and all our healthcare training clients who are dedicating their lives to our healthcare while building a brighter future for themselves and their families.

A career in healthcare often begins with a call to serve.

Janelle, 25, felt this tug. “I wanted to do something in healthcare. I’ve always liked helping people.” After browsing the College of DuPage (COD) website to explore potential careers, she decided to pursue respiratory therapy. When Janelle was younger, her brother was born with asthma and she witnessed the struggles individuals with chronic asthma endure. Unfortunately, her retail job wouldn’t cover the tuition.

Janelle was eligible for workNet DuPage’s young adult program. In addition to covering the full cost of COD’s Respiratory Therapist certificate program, workNet DuPage offered job search workshops and the support of a knowledgeable and caring staff.

“Its been amazing! What I loved most was my communication with my counselor Keri. I can’t compare it to anything else. Keri responded to my calls and emails right away. We really clicked.”

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a ventilator shortage concerned many. Far less attention was paid to the shortage of skilled respiratory therapists - Janelle’s chosen career track - necessary to operate these lifesaving machines.

While the ventilator supply has been replenished, the dire need for respiratory therapists remains. According to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of respiratory therapists, currently at 150,000 nationally, must increase by 21% over the next several years to accommodate the rising population of elderly patients with chronic lung disease.

Thanks to workNet DuPage, Janelle’s COD teacher Barbara Coe, and a lot of hard work, Janelle is joining the ranks of specialized health care practitioners trained in cardiopulmonary care.

Janelle built confidence, overcame fears, and began to look to the future.

Janelle built confidence, overcame fears, and began to look to the future. “Working with workNet got my mind straight. I didn’t have a lot of goals before. And now I do.”

As she was concluding her studies the coronavirus pandemic hit. When her aunt came down with the virus and was hospitalized and placed on a ventilator, Janelle learned firsthand the essential role she would play in her future occupation. Her family’s inability to visit their beloved aunt motivated her further. Laser focused, she completed training, passed her exams, and sent in an application for a state license. She now has several credentials under her belt.

Janelle now earns more than double her retail wage.

After graduation, the longtime Bensenville resident found herself in serious demand. Her dreams came true in late October when she accepted a position as a Respiratory Care Practitioner at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights.

Janelle now earns more than double her retail wage. “I’m really excited. With everything going on, I just want to help everyone that I can to the best of my ability. workNet DuPage opened a lot of doors for me. I see a lot of good things ahead.”

Thankfully Janelle’s aunt was weaned off a ventilator and is now at home in good condition.

Janelle knows better than anyone that the ventilator could not have saved her aunt without the essential medical professionals skilled in operating the machine.

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This article was featured in workNet DuPage's Year in Review.  Learn more about how workNet DuPage steps up to help local businesses during this historic time. Read the entire report here.