To say that Jerrick Tupas is an exemplary student would be an understatement. Currently enrolled at GateWay Community College, he has entered into his final semester in the Respiratory Care Program, while being concurrently enrolled at Northern Arizona University working toward a bachelor’s in Health Science.
His experience while working in a physical therapy clinic is what sparked his interest in the allied health professions, because he saw the positive impact they can have on a patient’s life.
Growing up, he witnessed the health complications that plagued a family member. When he learned that some of the issues could have been prevented by quality patient education, he knew he needed to make a difference. That sparked his desire to become an advocate for patients.
“I always knew I wanted to be in healthcare and wanted to help patients with their recovery process from injuries or other health conditions,” he shared.
After researching different career options, he discovered the Physician Assistant (PA) profession and immediately found his calling. To become a physician assistant, patient care experience is required, which is why he decided to study Respiratory Therapy (RT). Respiratory Therapists specialize in the cardiopulmonary system, work in all areas of the hospital and with all ages, allowing Tupas the ability to care for a variety of patients.
This fall, Tupas was the recipient of The Lambda Beta Society NBRC/Hill Leadership Award, which is presented to a student who has shown exemplary leadership in their educational career as well as volunteer and community service.
In addition to being a full-time student, Tupas works full-time, attends two 12-hour clinicals a week, acts as the vice-president for the Association of Respiratory Care Students (ARCS), maintains the GateWay ARCS Facebook page, tutors’ other students, makes it a priority to visit the gym daily, volunteers, and somehow makes time for family and friends.
“By planning ahead, maintaining a positive mindset, and problem solving, I realized I can overcome any obstacles in the way of my goals,” Tupas said.
He also credits the amazing support from his professors while attending GateWay. “My teachers all work hard and are passionate about what they do. It amazes me how experienced, knowledgeable, skillful, dedicated, and great people that they are,” Tupas said.
Tupas plans to complete his associate’s degree in December 2020, and then focus his attention on finishing his bachelor's degree in Summer 2021, with the ultimate goal of working for two years to gain his critical care experience and then earning his Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MSPAS).
“By becoming a PA, I will be able to help those individuals who are not given the proper education, time, or medical care they deserve due to healthcare provider shortages in underserved communities,” Tupas said.
To learn more about the Respiratory Care program at GateWay Community College visit, https://www.gatewaycc.edu/respiratory-care.