Leidich, who also is Department Chair of Allied Health and Program Director of Respiratory Care at HACC, has been a major force in the profession for more than two decades at the local, state and national level. He has been an educator at HACC since 1989 and is currently working with a national accreditation agency to develop mentoring for new educational program directors in 19 different allied health occupations, including respiratory therapy.
His pioneering achievements and continued lifelong dedication to the profession recently were recognized by the American Association for Respiratory Care at the International Respiratory Congress in Orlando, Fla. During the congress, Leidich was inducted as a prestigious Fellow of the American Association for Respiratory Care (FAARC), an award that recognizes professionals who have made significant contributions to the field.
“To be recognized by my professional organization and peers is a real honor, the best ever, bestowed upon me,” says Leidich.
At HACC, his hard work and leadership has helped develop an important highly respected respiratory therapist program that is vital to the Central Pennsylvania community.
“HACC has grown to the point that today health career students are 30 percent of the population of the college,” Leidich says. “We have more than 6,000 students enrolled in more than 30 credit and noncredit health care programs.
“It is exciting to be able to sit back and say I have been a part of that.”
His career in respiratory therapy began in 1969 at Harrisburg Hospital. Leidich then enrolled at St. Joseph’s Hospital (now Lancaster Regional Medical Center) to become a registered respiratory therapist. He later enrolled in Temple University from which he earned a master’s degree in education in 1981.
“I enjoyed the clinical setting and loved working with patients, but I was looking for a different challenge,” Leidich admits.
“I always tell my students to be lifelong learners and critical thinkers,” said Leidich, whose resume supports his own advice.
He has taken an active role in developing standards of practice for respiratory therapists that attest to their competence and ability to function with the health care team.
“Credentialing is a formalized process that demonstrates we have the skills necessary to perform our jobs, and we take it very seriously,” said Leidich, who works with the National Board for Respiratory Care and is a board member of the Committee on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC). “I’m not sure if everyone - most importantly, the patients - understands the value of the initials after my name.”
His affiliations include board membership of more than 20 professional organizations, including the Professional Educational Committee of the American Lung Association, Pennsylvania Society for Respiratory Care and the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout Committee. He has been published in numerous industry publications. He is secretary to the Board of Directors and National Site Visitor for CoARC and serves on the PA Workforce Investment Board (WIB) Healthcare Awareness and SouthCentral WIB Strategic Healthcare committees.
“I learned things the old-fashioned way - through the school of hard knocks” and being involved in the respiratory therapist profession at many levels now gives him opportunity to share those experiences and give back to the profession and the community. And, Leidich shows no sign of slowing down.
“My days are so varied and everyday is different - I like that,” Leidich said, adding his colleagues keep him motivated. “I work with the most wonderful group of professionals. They really make it fun for me to go to work.”