Conestoga news

May 10, 2024 1:23 PM

Conestoga earns national honours at respiratory therapy conference

Two 2023 graduates and an instructor from Conestoga’s Respiratory Therapy advanced diploma program received national honours at the Canadian Society of Respiratory Therapists (CSRT) Educational Conference on May 5. Held in Banff, Alberta, the conference recognized Jenna-Dee Toffoli with a gold medal for having the highest score in Canada on the national credentialling exam for respiratory therapists, Gustavo Ricardo Perez with a bronze medal for the country’s third-highest score, and professor Pam Hall for receiving the Robert Merry Excellence in Education Award.

(Pictured L-R) Pam Hall, Jenna-Dee Toffoli and Gustavo Ricardo Perez.

“We’re thrilled that members of our Conestoga community have received such high recognition. I congratulate Jenna and Gustavo on their great performances on the exam and we wish them the best as they begin their careers, and I congratulate Pam for her well-deserved recognition as an instrumental instructor in our program,” said Gino De Pinto, program coordinator and professor in the Respiratory Therapy program.

By completing the exam, Jenna and Gustavo earned their Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) designation and are currently employed as RRTs at Hamilton Health Sciences and Cambridge Memorial Hospital, respectively. In addition to excelling academically and on the credentialling exam, they were each active in extra-curricular activities during their studies.

Jenna served as a student representative on the respiratory therapy program advisory committee, playing an active role as a voice of students to instructors and administration. She credits the program for helping her to the gold-medal exam score, as well as providing a foundation that she’s built upon to begin her career.

“This award stands as a testament to the unwavering dedication and passion that characterizes the excellence of the Respiratory Therapy program at Conestoga College. I extend heartfelt gratitude to our remarkable professors who imparted technical expertise with compassionate care, and our student clinicals also provided exposure to diverse settings. This experience paved the way for me to find a rewarding full-time position.”

Gustavo represents respiratory therapy students as an elected member of the CSRT Board of Directors. He will continue in this role, providing student feedback and perspective until his term ends in June. He also spoke highly of the program at Conestoga and the moral support it provided.  

“With or without the medal, this journey has been incredible, and it's all thanks to this program at Conestoga. All the staff in the Respiratory Therapy department have built an incredible culture that fosters camaraderie, passion, and a pursuit of excellence. Thanks to them, I felt motivated to strive to grow and do better everyday.”

De Pinto added that Jenna and Gustavo’s awards build on the strong exam finishes of Conestoga students who have now earned two golds, two silvers, and two bronze medals in the past seven years in a field that usually includes more than 350 participants.

Conestoga professor Pam Hall was also honoured at the conference with the Robert Merry Excellence in Education Award. The award was created to recognize a CSRT member who has made significant contributions to education and has influenced others toward higher levels of achievement.

“I have been passionate about education and respiratory therapy since first becoming an RRT, and in 2008, I had the privilege of joining the Conestoga community. I am grateful for the opportunities, encouragement, and support that I’ve been given to enrich my practice as an educator,” said Hall.   

Hall was recognized unanimously by the CSRT Board of Directors as an innovative educator, a well-respected collaborator, and a generous volunteer in the profession of respiratory therapy.

“Students have always provided high praise for Pam’s empathetic and effective teaching methods. Our program has been fortunate to have benefitted from Pam’s presence as her guidance and dedication have helped launch the successful careers of numerous graduates of the program,” said De Pinto.

“To have an instructor honoured in addition to the ongoing strong exam performances of our students speaks to the Respiratory Therapy program’s reputation for excellence,” said Sandra Schelling, executive dean, School of Health and Life Sciences.

“I sincerely congratulate all of our award recipients. We’ll look to their hard work and achievements as inspiration to continue to deliver a program that meets the highest national standards in the respiratory therapy field.”

Conestoga’s three-year Respiratory Therapy advanced diploma program is designed to satisfy the educational requirements for registration as an RRT based on the National Competency Framework for Respiratory Therapy. This fully-integrated program provides a diverse learning environment that utilizes classroom education, laboratory sessions, clinically immersive simulation, e-learning, and early clinical exposure with continuous role modeling of the profession.

The program is part of Conestoga’s School of Health & Life Sciences, which offers a range of credentials to assist students in their goal of becoming a health-care professional. The school delivers the most up-to-date training provided by expert faculty and staff in state-of-the-art facilities.