Class of 2016: Stephanie West – Healthcare Provider and Patient
Stephanie West pursued her integrated bachelor’s and master’s degree in respiratory therapy while undergoing the grueling process of hemodialysis for chronic kidney disease. She credits Georgia State professors for helping her manage her health while she was taking classes. Her roommate also assisted by setting up facetime during course lectures.
“I feel blessed that my professors worked with me,” said West. “And I also feel blessed to have found a career path that I love.”
West always knew that she wanted to pursue a career in health, as many of her family members work in the field. Her step-father, an anesthesiologist, battled cancer and his strength during his chemotherapy was an inspiration to her. She knew she could follow his example and be strong as well.
West’s plans to take board certification exams and then work in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). She loves working with babies and being able to help their parents and families, which she has experienced during her clinical work.
“You get to know the families, and it’s even more satisfying to see the success of your hard work when the child grows up healthy,” said West.
West’s health problems have given her empathy for the patients she treats and how she interacts with them. She describes her work as a puzzle and wants to share her positive attitude with patients and their families.
“Sometimes you want to give up, but I’ve decided to go forward and that influences how I interact with patients,” she said.
West is now on dialysis that she can do from home while she sleeps. She’s also on a list for a kidney transplant. Despite her health challenges, West has an overwhelmingly positive outlook on life. She wants to be an example to others that if you’re willing to put in the work, health issues don’t have to limit what you can do. Finally, her advice to incoming RT student is to enjoy the process and the program.
“It will be hard, but you’ll make great friends,” she said. “I’ve made life-long friends.”