How CNM’s Respiratory Therapy Program Gave This First-Gen Student a Promising and Growing Career in Healthcare

Brandon Casey used what he learned at CNM to provide critical care during the COVID-19 pandemic
March 07, 2023

Brandon Casey admits that it took him a little time to find his spot in the world. He tried working in sales and customer service but felt unfulfilled in both those areas. Then he decided to give Respiratory Therapy a try at CNM and knew he’d found his path forward. 

“Within just a couple weeks of starting the program I knew I was in the right place,” Brandon says. 

Respiratory Therapy is a field where students learn to monitor and evaluate cardiopulmonary function, perform diagnostic testing, and maintain life-support systems for patients in critical care settings. Brandon loved the critical care component of the field, and appreciated how CNM taught students through a mix of classroom and hands-on learning.

“We started clinicals really early on in the program and that hands-on experience helped me feel confident and showed me the importance of respiratory therapy,” he says. 

Immediately after graduating in 2020 Brandon started an internship at the UNM Hospital. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and he was tasked with providing critical care on a regular basis. 

It was a scary and challenging time, but the experience actually inspired Brandon to continue his education so he reapplied to school and in 2024 he’ll start studying to be a physician’s assistant (PA). 

“At the height of the pandemic we were taking every precaution to reduce contact with COVID patients and this meant I got to help with things outside of respiratory therapy. That experience is what inspired me to go to school to become a PA,” he says. 

Currently, Brandon is working as a Pulmonary Educator at UNMH. In this position, he’s helped write hospital protocol and got the chance to work on the 1800 Quit Now program, which provides resources to people who want to quit smoking. He also works in the COPD and asthma clinic.

Looking back, Brandon sees that CNM was a critical jumping off point for what’s become an exciting career that’s only going to get better as he works toward becoming a PA.

“This entire journey started with CNM,” Brandon says. “And it’s been especially rewarding because I’m also the first person in my family to go to college.”  

In five years, Brandon says the plan is to have completed PA school and to be working here in New Mexico. He also wants to make sure he stays connected to CNM.

“I’m very committed to giving back to CNM,” he says. “I hope I can come back and teach, help improve the curriculum, and show students how many opportunities there are in the respiratory therapy field.”