Second Breath

UC Clermont helps student transition from construction to healthcare.

After 17 years in construction as a union ironworker, Aaron Imhoff’s body was beaten down, his business struggling — a casualty of the 2008 Great Recession. He needed to start over. While weighing his options for a second career, Imhoff realized he already possessed hidden interest in a growing field.  

“I was always the one in my family who volunteered to go to hospice, or to visit family members when they were sick,” Imhoff says. “When I started looking for a new career, it was all about demand, and respiratory care is one of the most needed areas right now in healthcare.” Respiratory care therapists work with patients suffering with chronic respiratory disease, such as asthma or emphysema, and provide emergency care to those experiencing heart attack, drowning or shock.  

In 2012, Imhoff’s decision led him to UC Clermont, which the Loveland resident says he chose because of the college’s close location, small class sizes and one-on-one access to professors — all available while still benefitting from UC’s reputation for excellent healthcare education. “I was impressed by the whole experience. I got help from The Learning Center, and the professors had time to answer my questions,” Imhoff says. “To compare, my anatomy and physiology class — which is a required class for anyone studying healthcare — had about 25 students. The same class on Main Campus can have up to 400.”

Student Aaron Imhoff in UC Clermont lab classroom

Imhoff says the smaller class sizes help to create a close-knit feel among the students and instructors in the Respiratory Care program. “Our entire class has been a life raft, hanging together trying to get through the program, which is no joke,” says Imhoff, adding that program instructors Mike Mullarkey and Jodi Kaminski build direct relationships with the students. “We have the same professors for the duration of the program, so you become close with them.”  

After graduation this spring, Imhoff will be eligible to take his boards and become a registered respiratory care therapist. But he is already working directly with patients, both through the UC Clermont program — he and his classmates have received clinical training in nearly a dozen different area hospitals — and through his student position at Mercy West Hospital, where he gains hands-on experience by working alongside other therapists.  

Imhoff also plans to continue his education online through UC to earn his bachelor’s degree while working full time. He encourages others thinking about returning to school to consider UC Clermont first — and not to limit themselves.  “When you get at a certain age, you think you can't learn anymore, and that's not true,” Imhoff says. “You should never stop learning. I’ve met students who were 60 years old, and some still in high school, and we are all in the same boat. Younger students will look to you for advice, especially if you're successful. There is a camaraderie among everyone.”

This story was originally published on 12/7/2015.