It's a good thing John Priest of Andover listens to his mother-in-law. As a result, he now has a new career in health care he says he loves and soon will start a new job with the Boston Medical Center.
A couple of years ago, when he was exploring career options, his mother-in-law, Debbie Boettcher, an emergency room nurse and longtime resident of Andover who recently moved south, advised him to consider a career in health care.
On Saturday, May 16, he graduated with high honors and an associate degree in respiratory therapy from Northern Essex Community College. He was recently hired as a respiratory therapist at the Boston Medical Center.
"It's always busy, always changing, and there's always something to learn," said Priest, quick to credit Boettcher with providing the inspiration for his career choice.
After graduating from high school in 1998, Priest attended Southern Connecticut State University where he played baseball and majored in exercise science. He left college three semesters shy of earning his bachelor's degree and began working in the baseball industry, helping minor and major league baseball players to develop training programs and select equipment.
The work was exciting but somewhat seasonal, which led Priest to explore new options that would provide more stability.
When his mother in-law suggested health care, Priest was intrigued.
As an undergraduate, he had already taken some of the courses that were pre-requisites for entrance to health-care programs, such as anatomy and physiology, so had a head start.
After one year in the program, Priest was hired by Saints Memorial Hospital in Lowell to work with his student license.
He found he enjoyed working with his patients who were coping with a variety of respiratory conditions, such as asthma, pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.