Early licensing puts Fanshawe students on front lines of COVID-19 pandemic

Fanshawe College's respiratory therapy graduating class of 2020. Photo courtesy of Fanshawe College.

Fanshawe College’s respiratory therapy students are being called up to the front lines earlier than expected to help deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The post secondary institution and the College of Respiratory Therapists of Ontario, the body that regulates the profession, have agreed to grant licenses to the 43 third-year students. This clears the way for them to begin treating patients with breathing or pulmonary conditions.

“I have been in this profession for more than twenty years and have never seen this happen, not even during SARS,” Julie Brown, coordinator of Fanshawe’s respiratory therapy program, said in a statement. “I have all of the confidence in the world in our students.”

The students were only four weeks away from completing the three-year course and have done 36 of 40 weeks of clinical and community placements.

“They have all of the skills they need to be great help,” added Brown.

Even though the early licensing has been secured, the students will still be required to complete online course work over the next month.

The need for respiratory therapists has increased dramatically due to the global outbreak of coronavirus, which can cause moderate to severe breathing difficulties. Many hospitals have reported a shortage of respiratory therapists as a result.

There are only 3,000 respiratory therapists across the province, according to the college.