ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — Facing a shortage of workers due to COVID-19, Ascension Seton Williamson Medical Center tapped 10 Texas State seniors to fill open respiratory therapy assistant positions.
Gregg Marshall, chair of the respiratory care department at the Texas State College of Health Professions, said the 10 students the hospital got are the best and brightest.
“They’re all outstanding students, I’m telling you,” he said. “They are all like the A-Team. All of these students have 4.0 grade averages, they’re unbelievable. David [Garza, Ascention Seton Williamson director] won’t want to let them go when this is over.”
The students will begin work immediately, but will also continue their course work. Marshall said the students won’t be in the intensive care unit or dealing with the COVID-19 patients, but are there for general floor therapy and less acute patients.
“They’ll be taking care of the folks in the hospital who are having non-critical respiratory problems,” Marshall said. “That allows David to shift his experienced staff to the ICUs.”
The students are taking advantage of a provision Gov. Greg Abbott ordered April 5 that temporarily waived some requirements for respiratory therapy graduates to be licensed prior to joining the workforce.
It enabled about 800 graduates from all the different programs in Texas to start working before their board exams and other licensing protocol.
“When things calm down, then they’ll go back and take their board exams to get their license,” Marshall said. “The requirement is still there, it’s just deferred.”