VC grad finds satisfaction in helping save lives as respiratory therapist

Allen King graduated from Victoria College’s Respiratory Care Program in 2016.

Allen King knew he was in the right place on his first day in Victoria College’s Respiratory Care Program.

“Our professor, Chris Kallus, drew a long line on a whiteboard and told us this was our life,” King recalled. “He went toward the beginning of the line and rubbed out a very small portion of the line with his thumb. He said, ‘Give me just that much time, and I’ll get you prepared to be a successful respiratory therapist.’ I knew at that point I was where I needed to be.”

King already had a job offer from Citizens Medical Center before he completed the two-year program in 2016.

“The thing I really enjoy about my job is when a family will tell me how much they appreciate what I have done for their loved one,” King said. “I don’t expect thanks, because this is what I signed up for. I’m here to do whatever I can for a patient. You’re not looking for people to say ‘thank you.’ You’re just trying to help save a life. But when they do, it feels really good.”

Respiratory therapists are the health specialists who evaluate, treat and care for patients with breathing disorders. They work under the direction of a physician and assist in the diagnosis, treatment and management of patients with pulmonary problems.

King, 33, attended Brazosport College in Lake Jackson before moving to Victoria with his mother.

“I was getting older, and I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” King said. “I was working on air conditioners all over the county. I decided that I didn’t really want to work on ACs. I wanted to work in AC.”

King had heard about Victoria College’s Respiratory Care Program from a customer during one of his AC jobs.

“I stumbled in VC’s Allied Health Building one day and found myself in Chris’ office,” King recalled. “He gave me an application and asked me to fill it out right on the spot. Then he wanted to interview me. I was surprised. I didn’t have on good clothes. I needed a haircut. I wasn’t ready for an interview. When I left, he said, ‘I’ll see you in August.’ I didn’t think much of it until I received the letter saying I was accepted.”

King said he felt prepared for the job after graduating from the program.

“When I was in the program, I would meet up with students from other programs at seminars around the state,” King said. “Some of these students were going to four-year college programs. I noticed how much further along our training and education was and what our skillset was compared to what they had.”

King said a day in the life of a respiratory therapist can present many challenges.

“The specialized skillset we possess requires us to have a meticulous approach to critical care,” King said. “We are present from the first breath of life to the last. I enjoy being a respiratory therapist because it allows me to give back to my community and bring awareness to what my role is as a healthcare professional. And I also get to educate patients in various hospital settings.”

Looking back, King said stepping into Kallus’ office nine years ago was one of the best decisions of his life.

“Without a shadow of doubt, being invited to enroll in this program totally transformed my life,” King said.

Registered respiratory therapists are in high demand and work in a number of settings, including hospitals, intensive care units, emergency rooms, newborn and pediatric units, patients’ homes, sleep laboratories and rehabilitation centers.

Victoria College’s Respiratory Care Program offers a two-year Associate of Applied Science degree. Successful completion of the program enables graduates to take a series of national board exams to become a registered respiratory therapist. Respiratory therapists in the Golden Crescent make an average of $57,000 per year. Demand for respiratory therapists is predicted to increase 19 percent over the next decade.

Victoria College’s Respiratory Care Program recently received the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care President’s Award for Excellence in Credentialing Success. VC was one of 26 institutions nationwide and the only one in Texas to receive the award for 100-percent success in students successfully obtaining their registered respiratory therapist credentials.

For information on Victoria College’s Respiratory Care Program, call (361) 573-3291 or visit