May 12, 2015

Columbia State Honors Respiratory Care Graduates

Photo Caption: Row one, left to right: Shaina McFall (Collinwood), Jennica Pierce (Pulaski), Ashley Parisek (Columbia), Julie Wright (Spring Hill), Carly George (Centerville), and Jennisha Poarch (Chapel Hill). Row two, left to right: Savannah Davis (Centerville), Jeffrey Miller (Tullahoma), Jessie Evans (Franklin), Casi Blade (Pulaski), Ashley Bratcher (Lawrenceburg), Alesha Casteel (Clifton), Angela Hargrove (Columbia), and Rebecka Nicoll (Lawrenceburg). Row three, left to right: Barbara Himlin (Spring Hill), Clark Bowen (McMinnville), Joseph Warren (Columbia), Eric McKnight (Summertown), and Mark Witherow (Columbia).

(COLUMBIA, Tenn. - May 12, 2015) - - - Columbia State Community College recently recognized 19 respiratory care graduates during its annual pinning ceremony Thursday, May 7.

"A unique thing about this year's respiratory care graduates is their camaraderie," said David Johnson, director and associate professor of the respiratory care program. "More than any other class they study together and hang out together. This closeness has helped some to succeed."

Students trained to work as respiratory therapists provide assessment, diagnostic evaluation, treatment and care for patients with breathing disorders. Upon completion of the program, graduates become experts in artificial ventilation, resuscitation and airway management.

After earning the Associate of Applied Science degree, respiratory care graduates must complete two national exams in order to obtain the registered respiratory therapist credential. The national average first-attempt pass rate on the first exam is 80 percent, while Columbia State's respiratory care program first-attempt pass rate on the first exam for 2014 graduates was 92 percent.

"Graduates from Columbia State's respiratory care program are sought out by area employers based upon exceptional clinical skills and experience with the most current equipment," said Dr. Kae Fleming, dean of health sciences division and professor of radiologic technology. "This group continuously demonstrates energy, compassion, and excitement about providing levels of care which change patients' future."

Johnson said that the graduates are pursuing employment at long-term care facilities, home care agencies and area hospitals, such as Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Maury Regional Medical Center, Monroe Carrell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, Saint Thomas West Hospital, Saint Thomas - Rutherford Hospital.

"Historically, Columbia State graduates have a 98% job placement rate," Johnson said. "This year, several are securing jobs even before graduation, and employment prospects for all of 2015 graduates look good."

Columbia State's respiratory care program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care. All students participate in supervised, hands-on care in a variety of area healthcare settings and receive adult, pediatric and neonatal training.

For more information about enrolling in the respiratory care program, visit

Coffee County: Jeffrey Miller (Tullahoma).

Giles County:
Left to right, Jennica Pierce (Pulaski) and Casi Blade (Pulaski).

Hickman County: Left to right, Savannah Davis (Centerville) and Carly George (Centerville).

Lawrence County: Left to right: Ashley Bratcher (Lawrenceburg), Eric McKnight (Summertown), and Rebecka Nicoll (Lawrenceburg).

Lewis County: Eric McKnight (Summertown).

Marshall County: Jennisha Poarch (Chapel Hill).

Maury County: Left to right: Ashley Parisek (Columbia), Barbara Himlin (Spring Hill), Joseph Warren (Columbia), Mark Witherow (Columbia), and Angela Hargrove (Columbia).

Warren County: Bowen Clark (McMinnville).

Wayne County: Left to right: Alesha Casteel (Clifton) and Shaina McFall (Collinwood).

Williamson County: Left to right: Julie Wright (Spring Hill) and Jessie Evans (Franklin).

Columbia State is a two-year college, serving a nine-county area in southern Middle Tennessee with locations in Columbia, Franklin, Lawrenceburg, Lewisburg and Clifton. As Tennessee's first community college, Columbia State is committed to increasing access and enhancing diversity at all five campuses. Columbia State is a member of the Tennessee Board of Regents, one of the largest higher education systems in the nation. For more information, please visit

Tennessee's Community Colleges is a system of 13 colleges offering a high-quality, affordable, convenient and personal education to prepare students to achieve their educational and career goals in two years or less. We offer associate degree and certificate programs, workforce development programs and transfer pathways to four-year degrees. For more information, please visit us online at

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