When the pandemic forced most students to learn remotely, health sciences students at Moraine Valley Community College continued to work in the field, getting hands-on experience to make them job ready upon graduation.

Obtaining clinical experience during the pandemic is making students more prepared to handle disaster and emergency situations on a different level, said Dr. LoShay Willis, dean of Career Programs.

“The pandemic has exposed students to situations and provided experiences that may not have been available to them in the pre-pandemic healthcare environment. It has prepared students to navigate the challenging work environment, where we have seen a reduction in workforce but more sick patients that require a higher acuity of care,” Willis said.

The clinical experience during this challenging time has done just that for many students in the health sciences programs, including Luis Martinez, of Blue Island, a student in the Sleep Technology Program who will graduate in May. Because of his training, exceptional skills and experience gained during his clinical experience amidst the pandemic, Martinez was offered a full-time position as a sleep technician with Advocate Aurora Health before he even graduated from the program.

“Luis has phenomenal communication skills and absolutely shined in the clinical setting,” said Debbie Guerrero, professor of respiratory therapy technology and coordinator of the Sleep Technology Program. “His professionalism, empathy and passion are remarkable. He is an enormous asset to the field of sleep technology.”

Luis Martinez

Luis Martinez

While conducting his clinical work, Angie Marczali, director of the System Sleep Services of Illinois at Advocate Aurora Health, was moved to hire him immediately.

“We are always impressed with how ready Moraine Valley students are when they arrive at clinical,” Marczali said. “The surprising part of this interview was Luis was calm, not showing one bit of nervousness during his interview. He seemed at ease with any of my questions, most of which were more behavioral based, and his answers aligned with our vision and value.”

Martinez’ coworkers, supervisors and instructors believe he is a perfect fit for this career, and it shows in his ability to work with patients who are undergoing sleep studies. The facilities at which Martinez works—he rotates among four locations—also receive compliments from patients who said Martinez was thorough and compassionate, and they are grateful for the wonderful care he provided.

“I honestly don’t know why it comes so naturally for me. Maybe it’s because I talk too much,” he said with a laugh. “People tell me my voice is very soothing and calming so that helps the patients feel comfortable and in a safe place.”

While a soothing voice can be one reason for his success, Guerrero believes another is his ability to communicate with patients.

“I was blown away because usually first-year students, when they go off to clinical, don’t have much confidence. It was unbelievable how well he instantly was able to communicate with patients. I have never seen that before in a student to the extent he has it,” she said.

For more information about the Sleep Technology Program at Moraine Valley, contact Guerrero at guerrero@morainevalley.edu.


For news media inquiries, contact Jessica Crotty, assistant director of Communications, at (708) 974-5281 or crotty@morainevalley.edu.