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Respiratory Therapy Runs in the Family

Mackenzie and Wed Sconce stand side by side

In 1994, Wes Sconce graduated from Mizzou’s Respiratory Therapy program and entered the workforce as a Respiratory Therapist soon after. Fast-forward to 2017, and his daughter, Mackenzie Sconce, is preparing to graduate from the same program. While Mr. Sconce is proud of his daughter’s education and excited for her future endeavors, he tries not to belabor his legacy and encourages Mackenzie to seek her own path within the field.

Mr. Sconce developed an interest in healthcare during his early teens. He was interested in becoming a doctor, but while surrounded by numerous other students in an introduction to health science class who were pursuing the same path, he contemplated exploring other options. A guest speaker in his class brought about his awareness of the career possibilities within RT. “It (the career field) checked all the boxes,” says Wes. “I didn’t have to commit to 10 years of schooling and the potential career paths were numerous.” Once in the program, Wes flourished. “I certainly liked the class size and my grades improved immensely. Our class started with 24 and graduated about 18-20. We had a schedule with the same people every day, which helped us establish a close-knit group of classmates.” Currently a manager of support services at the Missouri Orthopaedic Institute, Mr. Sconce has held various positions in clinical and in-home care settings. All in all, his career at MU Health Care spans 20 years.

Similar to her father, Mackenzie started college with a different healthcare career in mind; radiography. As Mackenzie was sitting in her Health Science 1000 class, Mizzou’s RT program director came as a guest speaker and described what a flight RT career is like. The fast-paced nature of flight and emergency services intrigued Mackenzie and prompted her to do some job shadowing. The experience confirmed for Mackenzie that RT was a good fit for her interests and abilities. Mackenzie explains her career aspirations as; “I would love to work with kids. I’ve actually accepted a full-time position with MU Health Care for after graduation. I would ultimately love to do transport, whether that be young kids or adults. For now, I would love to do the fast-paced ER.”

The versatility of an RT degree allows Mackenzie to receive the same training and education as her father, yet pursue a slightly different career path. When asked if her father’s career choices influenced her own, Mackenzie notes, “He didn’t push hard about it. I remember during high school on the way to basketball practice he would tell me stories about the ER. It didn’t click then, but later in HS 1000, it did. It’s nice to have someone to tell stories to and they can relate to.” Besides suggesting that she get a Littmann stethoscope, Wes refrains from interfering with Mackenzie’s experience with comparisons or advice. “The program has done a good job of letting me do my own thing. Nothing has been handed to me,” says Mackenzie, “If anything it’s been entertaining. My dad had a positive experience and built good relationships with people in the program and MU Health Care, so now I get to hear funny stories from people he used to work with and about my brothers and I when we were younger.”

This mindset guides Mackenzie and Wes’s concept of legacy and adds sincerity. “It’s a source of pride, but it’s not overplayed. I’m excited for Mackenzie and I look forward to being colleagues. We do have a special relationship because of the common language,” expresses Wes. “My father and his experience is inspiring. It’s fun to have someone to look up to. It’s also fun to say hey little brother, I’m doing what dad did,” jokes Mackenzie.