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Olsen Jarvis, Respiratory Therapist

Olsen Jarvis, Respiratory Therapist

Career Mentor – Olsen Jarvis

25 successful years, 25 career mentors

October 23, 2015 — 

Olsen Jarvis [B.H.Ecol/91] is one of 700+ Career Mentor volunteers who devote time to meeting University of Manitoba students. Each year, career mentors share their knowledge and advice to guide the career plans and contribute to the success of students. In celebration of 25 successful years, 25 career mentors have agreed to share their career stories and advice…


Briefly, tell us about your job. What do you find most rewarding? What are your greatest challenges within this profession?

I am a respiratory therapist at Concordia Hospital. My job involves assessing patients with respiratory problems, teaching them to manage their chronic respiratory problems and treating patients with respiratory problems. One of the other parts of my job is as a member of the code blue team that responds to patients experiencing cardiac or respiratory arrest. These patients usually require admission to the intensive care unit where I put them on a breathing machine called a ventilator.

Currently I work as a clinical specialist. This position requires me to provide support to staff with difficult to manage patients and education on new equipment. I am also required to keep up to date on the latest philosophy of respiratory treatment. There two things that I find most rewarding; 1) reading an article and sharing the information with the rest of the staff, and that helps to treat a difficult to manage patient 2) helping students in the department of respiratory therapy connect theory with clinical practice.

The greatest challenges with my profession is we are a forgotten part of the health care team, and keeping pace with the speed of new technology.

While you were completing your degree, what experiences and activities helped bring you to your career decision or helped you succeed in your occupation?

While at the University of Manitoba, I competed in track and field. This gave me the opportunity to travel Canada and meet people from other faculties and other universities in Canada. One of the most important things I learned from competing in track and field are work hard, perseverance during tough times and discipline.

Describe your career planning journey. Please include any highlights, bumps or roadblocks.

When I graduated from university there were no jobs. So I went back to school and studied respiratory therapy. I graduated again and there were still no jobs. So I sold medical equipment for seven years. I then went back into the hospital and worked my way to being a clinical specialist. My years in sales helps me today with the people skills needed to navigate dealing with the rest of the respiratory therapy staff, patients and other members of the health care team.

What inspired you to be a career mentor?

I was inspired to be a career mentor because I met a physician who took some time in the middle of her office day to convince me why I could become a medical doctor. I was amazed she took the time to have this discussion with me and even though I did not pursue medicine I never forgot the encouragement she gave me.

What advice do you have for students who are interested in following in your footsteps?

Develop your skills to work in a team and be technologically inclined.

What career advice do you have for university students?

I would encourage students to get involved in university life, look for opportunities to develop your abilities to deal with the public, work hard in school and make connections with other students from other faculties.


Stay tuned for more career mentor profiles! From September 25 to November 2 the Career Mentor Program will be profiling 25 dedicated and wonderful mentors from across several sectors. To view more career mentor profiles and learn about the anniversary event on November 2, 2015, please visit the CMP 25th Anniversary website.

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