Pathway program leads to respiratory careers

October 14th, 2010  |  by  |  Published in Features, Oct. 2010

student practices procedure on role-playing patient

Vanessa Machado performs a lung inflation procedure on fellow respiratory care student Arnold Casino

Ed Borza knows all too well the difference a University of Hawaiʻi degree pathway can make for a student. A graduate of Kapiʻolani Community College’s respiratory care practitioner program and now its director of clinical education, Borza wanted to pursue a bachelor’s degree when he completed the program.

“I wanted to go to UH West Oʻahu for a bachelor’s degree,” he recalls. “I went. I said ‘here’s my transcripts,’ but it wasn’t exactly that easy.”

He had earned more than 80 credits to complete the Kapiʻolani program and obtain an associate’s degree. Only 45 transferred—none of them in respiratory care. He was told he would be accepted into the Health Care Administration program on provisional status.

Thanks to the Mānanawai Program, Shareen Poepoe was able to avoid that obstacle. She became the first graduate of the dual-enrollment, dual-admission partnership between Kapiʻolani and West Oʻahu last May.

Full list of Degree Pathway Partnerships

“I’d like to think that I set the pathway for future respiratory therapists in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree,” says Poepoe.

Since graduation, she has attended an educational seminar to become a certified asthma educator and plans to attend the International Respiratory Congress later this year.

The Mānanawai Program was established by the two campuses in 2008 to allow students to enroll simultaneously at both and work toward a baccalaureate degree. Once admitted, students can take courses at either campus, paying the applicable tuition rate.

“Kapiʻolani Community College gave me my wings when I obtained the associate degree in respiratory care. In collaboration with UH West Oʻahu, they provided a roadway to success,” she says. “KCC’s program was well structured and prepared me for what was expected at UH West Oʻahu.”

The Mānanawai Program has since been extended to other UH community colleges in a variety of areas, including accounting, culinary management, information technology, mobile intensive care and education.

“It takes more than walking the path,” Poepoe counsels. “It takes initiative, committment, and self-direction. I had to take the initiative by communicating with my counselor at least once a semester, fulfilling course requirements, committing to my graduation timeline and basically being on the ball.”

The hard work pays off in jobs that benefit the student and state.

“We’ve made a concerted effort to provide a four-year pathway for our community college students that also addresses workforce needs,” says Louise Pagotto, vice chancellor for academic affairs at Kapiʻolani Community College, noting the growing number of jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree.

“The associate degree program trains people to be at the bedside, to be healthcare workers,” says Borza. “To go beyond the bedside requires a bachelor’s degree. It opens up a whole new path for your professional career” including opportunities for management positions, teaching careers and entrepreneurial ventures. Interest in the bachelor’s program is gaining among students in the Kapiʻolani program and technicians who have been working in the field from 5 to 15 years.

Hawaiʻi has approximately 300 respiratory therapists and a growing need for multi-skilled, licensed professionals in the field. Students and faculty in the program lobbied with industry leaders for passage of legislation making Hawaiʻi one of the 49 states that regulate the profession through licensure.

The new licensure requirements and the baccalaureate program are significant milestones, charting a clear course to meet increasing demand, says Kapiʻolani program Director Steve Wehrman. “For the people of Hawaiʻi, it will mean better acute healthcare and relief for the 200,000 people with chronic lung disease in the state.”


UH Degree Pathway Partnerships

The University of Hawaiʻi Community Colleges have formed umbrella degree pathway partnerships with UH baccalaureate campuses that cover a growing list of programs.

  • Kaʻieʻie
    Dual admission/dual enrollment at Kapiʻolani Community College and UH Mānoa with access to resources and academic advising at both campuses; visit the website or download the brochure (PDF).
  • Mānanawai
    Dual admission/dual enrollment at Kapiʻolani Community College and UH West Oʻahu; visit the website for applicable programs and additional articulation agreements.
  • Oregon State University
    An AA degree from Hawaiʻi or Leeward Community College guarantees junior standing and meets lower division baccalaureate core requirements at Oregon State University. Contact the respective community college campus for information.

Additional pathways programs apply to specific disciplines. Inquire at the listed community college campus for the following programs:


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