People Inspired: How Terra Breathes Life Into Bogalusa

Published 3:15 pm Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Serving as a respiratory therapist at Our Lady of the Angels Hospital for more than nine years, Terra Taylor, RRT, chooses to do this important work in Bogalusa.

“This is where I wanted to be,” Terra says. While she did her clinicals at other facilities, she felt called home. “I want to be a part of the healing in this community.”

Terra’s journey to becoming a respiratory therapist took time. Before she began that part of her career, she graduated in 2013 and worked in customer service and other aspects of healthcare.

“Being a respiratory therapist takes a lot. It’s not a job that you just jump into. You have to have a heart to work in healthcare,” Terra says.

Terra’s interest in respiratory therapy predates even knowing what that was.

“When I was a little girl, I remember a time when my brother and I were on our way to school. He was having an asthma attack,” she says. He didn’t have his inhaler, but she knew that it pumped out a mist.

“So I turned on the hot water, told him to put his head over the sink and put a towel over his head while he breathed in.” That quick thinking allowed him to stabilize until she could get an inhaler.

It wasn’t until she had her last of five sons 21 years ago that Terra first learned about respiratory therapy as a profession. A therapist had come to take care of her son who was born with some complications and needed breathing treatments.

“There’s a lot more to respiratory therapy than meets the eye,” Terra says. “We are an awesome and very important part of any healthcare team.”

Since working at Our Lady of the Angels, Terra has grown in her career. She joined the team and worked for seven years as a certified respiratory therapist, and her leaders and teammates encouraged her to work toward her registry.

“My leaders here are awesome,” she says. “If they see you trying to take this step forward in your career, they’re going to give you that push and I love it.”

That encouragement and the support she received to make time within her schedule to prioritize studying for her registry paid off for Terra and her team.

“I kept putting it off, but in 2021 I finally achieved my registry, which was my goal when I started,” she says. “I wouldn’t work anywhere else.”

To those considering a position with our health system, Terra advises: “Absolutely do it. Fill out that application and jump in. Don’t be afraid to work here, especially if you’re from here. But even if you’re not, you’re home. This is home.”

Terra is inspired by her patients and the effort they put into their treatments and recovery when she teaches them breathing exercises and techniques that make a difference.

“Watching them try, even when they’re in the end stages, just the effort they give is very inspiring,” Terra says. “It makes me want to do better and be better every day.”

Her connections with her patients are deepened by her approach to active listening.

“You have to listen to your patients,” Terra says. “If you just sit and listen to what a person has to say, it can go a long way. It can help you get the job done more efficiently.”

looking ahead

Terra loves what she does and where she works, but she has future goals.

“I always tell my supervisor that I don’t want his job, but I know I don’t want to do floor work my whole career,” she says. “My goal is in education. I would love to become an asthma educator or teach in a respiratory school.”

Her instructors opened up a whole new world to her, and she hopes to do the same for others in the future.