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Home : METC News : News : News Display
NEWS | June 17, 2024

From RT to M.D. – A METC Graduate’s Journey

By Lisa Braun, Medical Education and Training Campus Medical Education and Training Campus

After spending more time at the fraternity house than studying, then barely graduating from college with a bachelor’s degree in biology, Jared Katz realized he wanted to change who he was as a person, starting with contributing to society in a more meaningful way.
“I met with a great Army recruiter who took the time to dig deeper into what I wanted, both from my military experience and my life beyond,” shared Katz. “He turned my attention towards a very well-kept secret: the 68V, or respiratory specialist, career field.” 
The Respiratory Therapy (RT) course at the Medical Education and Training Campus (METC) on Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, is accredited and provides the opportunity for students like Katz to earn an associate degree in half the time it would take on the civilian side. Army and Navy students learn skills that are transferable for both military and civilian application.
“I saw this opportunity as a reset button on the mistakes I made in college and seized it.”  In fact, Katz not only exceled in the course, but he also earned the Honor Graduate designation.
Because Katz had enlisted in the Army as a reservist, he was able to go back to his home state of New York after graduating from the RT course. He then took and passed the National Board for Respiratory Care exam, earning his Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) credential. The RRT credential is nationally recognized as the “standard of excellence” for respiratory care professionals.
Katz was immediately hired for a full-time, well-paying job at the New York Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan while serving with the 4220th US Army Field Hospital in Long Island. 
“I can say with certainty that in the job market, completing my respiratory therapy degree in the military made me a much more desirable candidate, and the education I received at METC allowed me to seamlessly transition into fulltime, in-patient critical care medicine.”
Within a year of going through initial entry training and graduating from the METC RT course, Katz also completed the Army Basic Leader Course at Camp Cook in Ball, La, was promoted to Sgt., and successfully transferred to the 405th Combat Support Hospital in West Hartford, Ct. at the recommendation of a fellow 68V graduate.
Over the next two years, Katz continued to work at his civilian RT job in New York City while fulfilling his military duties as a non-commissioned officer in the 405th.  “Respiratory care was extremely rewarding, and I felt I wanted to learn and grow more as a healer and provider,” said Katz.  It was a former Navy RT classmate who convinced Katz to try getting into medical school.
After being advised to take some science courses to help boost his poor undergraduate grades and refresh his memory, Katz was accepted into the Health Science Intensive Post Baccalaureate Program at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md. Katz moved to Maryland to attend the year-long program where he continued with his Reserve duties by helping a local recruiting unit. After graduating with a master’s degree in biotechnology, Katz took and passed the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), scoring in the 94th percentile. He applied to medical school and returned to New York City.
Just as Katz transitioned out of the Army Reserve he was accepted to his dream medical school, Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. Then, thinking he was trading his RT career for medical school, the coronavirus pandemic had other plans. Katz, knowing his RT skills were valuable, accepted a position at Mt. Sinai St. Luke’s (now Mount Sinai Morningside) where he worked from April to July 2020 before starting medical school.
“To think that six years prior, I had never even heard of a respiratory therapist, and now here I was, in the heart of chaos where tens of thousands were dying from a new respiratory virus and RTs were needed by the fistful,” Katz recalled. “At its peak, I was the sole RT for 33 mechanically ventilated patients in one of the many Intensive Care Units constructed for the fallout.”
Then, Boston experienced a big COVID surge while Katz was in medical school. He was asked by Massachusetts General Hospital to work in one of their COVID ICUs.  Dartmouth had transitioned to fully remote learning by then, so he was able to accept a travel respiratory therapy contract while continuing medical school.
The final time Katz worked as an RT occurred when he was asked back to Massachusetts General Hospital during the only 8-week summer break he would get during four years of medical school. 
Katz graduated from Dartmouth Medical School on May 11, 2024. Crediting his RT background and experience, Katz not only exceled in the clinical portion of medical school, but he was matched with his number one residency choice of emergency medicine at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.
“Graduating from medical school is an achievement that would not have been possible without having gone through the Respiratory Therapy course,” stated Katz. “RT helped mold me into a clinician, a leader, a Soldier, and now - a doctor.”