Health Professions

Respiratory Care Week Alumni Profile: Luzolo Tapir Dienda

Luzolo Tapir Dienda

By Kate Hunger

Luzolo Tapir Dienda, MSRC, RRT-ACCS, RCP, had been a practicing respiratory therapist for 15 years when he decided to earn a master’s degree to expand his career options.

“I wanted to be an expert in what I do,” he said. “I wanted to open myself to new opportunities and be the best practitioner I can be.”

Dienda’s research led him to the online Master of Science in Respiratory Care program in the School of Health Professions — a fit that would allow him to continue working full time. After completing the program in fall 2020, Dienda accepted an adjunct faculty position with the Respiratory Therapy program at South Texas College in McAllen. Within less than a year, he was offered a full-time faculty position.

Working bedside with patients has always been a passion for Dienda, who majored in biomedical science and enrolled in medical school in the Democratic Republic of Congo before immigrating to the United States. He discovered respiratory care after arriving in the Rio Grande Valley and looking for health care career options.

“I volunteered in a respiratory department in the Valley,” he said. “I decided this was something I really loved and wanted to do.”

Dienda earned his associate degree in respiratory care and earned his Adult Critical Care Specialty (ACCS) credential. He decided to pursue a master’s degree to increase his opportunities to take on leadership and educational roles.

“I felt very empowered after I finished my program,” he said. “I felt like I got a magic key or I got some super power. Sure enough, [the program] opened opportunities for me.”

Being a student and full-time working respiratory therapist during the COVID-19 pandemic was difficult, he said.  

“It was emotionally draining and physically tiring,” he said. “It was really, really difficult. That was a big challenge.”

While still working as a respiratory therapist, he wrote the protocol on oxygen delivery for the hospital where he worked and educated nursing staff on respiratory protocols.  

Leaving bedside patient care to teach full time is bittersweet for Dienda, but he hopes his students will take what he teaches them and pay it forward with far more patients than he could personally care for.

“I am enjoying educating the new respiratory therapists, and I can’t wait to help my first class graduate,” he said. 

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