Dayton Children’s Hospital’s Director of Respiratory Care reflects on the progression of the field
Sinclair Community College’s respiratory care program has been preparing students to serve as experts in the respiratory field since 1971. As the respiratory therapy profession has advanced over the past half century, Sinclair has continued to provide exceptional education and training for thousands of hardworking students.
Sue Ciarlariello was a member of one of the earliest graduating classes of Sinclair Community College’s respiratory care program.
“After graduating high school in 1973 I went straight to Sinclair on a full tuition scholarship,” says Ciarlariello. “I originally thought I wanted to study art and focus on medical graphics, but after visiting Grandview Hospital and seeing how respiratory therapists helped patients, I was inspired to get into the field myself.”
When Sue was a student at Sinclair the respiratory program was modeled much like it is today: a two-year program that prepares students through classroom work and clinical experiences to sit for registry credentials and begin working in the professional field upon graduation.
“When I was a student I did clinical rotations at Good Samaritan Hospital, Miami Valley Hospital, and Dayton Children’s Hospital—which at that time was commonly called Barney’s Children’s Hospital,” says Ciarlariello. “I loved pediatrics and was able to work at Children’s as a student from 1974-1975.”
Upon graduation from Sinclair, Sue completed an internship at Kettering Medical Center and was offered a teaching position in the respiratory program at Kettering College. She taught at Kettering College until 1977 when she received an offer to return to Dayton Children’s as the Assistant Director of Education for Respiratory Care.
“Ever since I worked as a student at Children’s Hospital, pediatrics has held a special place in my heart,” says Ciarlariello. “I was excited when I had the opportunity to return to that work.”
Sue’s calling to work in pediatrics shined through as she made impacts in the lives of her patients as well as in the hospital processes and structure. In 1986 she became the Director of Respiratory Care, which included pulmonary function testing and sleep studies. 2017 marks the beginning of her 32nd year serving as the Director of Respiratory Care.
“I love medicine and how it is constantly evolving,” says Ciarlariello. “In my capacity as assistant director and later director I was able to participate in some cutting-edge research studies. We were a site for the first study trials of the drug surfactant and also served as the site for the first multi-center oscillatory ventilation study.”
Over the years Sue’s leadership skills created additional opportunities for her at Dayton Children’s. In 1995 she assumed responsibility for Dayton Children’s ambulance transport program becoming the Director of Transport. Over 2,000 newborn and pediatric patients are transported from other care facilities to Dayton Children’s Hospital each year and Sue’s teams ensure they arrive safely. “The scope of what I’ve been able to do and the patients I’ve been privileged to work with is amazing,” says Ciarlariello.
While growing and expanding her professional presence Sue also advanced her education. She completed her bachelor’s degree in management at Antioch University and her MBA at Wright State University.
“In the work I do I have kind of found a blend between operations management and project management,” says Ciarlariello. “I really enjoy what I do. Give me a situation and I can make it operate.”
Throughout her career Sue has also remained committed to the development of the respiratory care field and serving her community. She became involved with the Ohio Society for Respiratory Care in 1974 as a student at Sinclair and has remained an active member, serving on the Political Action Committee, as the President, and as the Legislative Chair in which she helped pass state licensure for respiratory therapists.
In 1999 she was appointed by Governor Taft to the Ohio Respiratory Care Board which regulates the respiratory care profession in Ohio. She served on this board for twelve years. She currently serves locally as the public policy chair for the Dayton United Way Board of Directors and is an active member of the Altrusa Club of Dayton.
When looking back at the trajectory of her career she credits the introduction to new ideas at Sinclair and a willingness to engage and learn new things for many of the opportunities.
“My profession has snowballed in many directions—all of these roles for respiratory therapists evolved in the span of my career,” says Ciarlariello. “The field is ready to grow even more and the new Health Sciences Center at Sinclair will continue to prepare students with the latest and greatest education and training.”
The influence and impact Sue has had in the respiratory care field, at Dayton Children’s Hospital, and in the lives of patients over the past 32 years is undeniable, and yet she recognizes her team and the work they do to keep the children of the Dayton region healthy and safe.
“What respiratory therapists do is life-saving and when it’s not done right it’s life threatening,” says Ciarlariello. “The staff at Dayton Children’s is amazing. They take ownership and they know how to anticipate what to do, and that is key in keeping our kids safe.
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