Alan Crawford, MBA, RRT-NPS, RRT-ACCS, AE-C, graduated from high school knowing he wanted a career in health care. He’d already gotten his CNA credential, so figured nursing was the next step.
After finding out how long it would take him to earn a nursing degree, however, he ended up enrolling in the RT program at Pima Medical Institute in Mesa, AZ, instead. By 2007 he had earned his RRT credential and was working as a therapist at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in downtown Phoenix.
While loving the job, he soon realized more school would be needed to grow his career, so he enrolled in an MBA program with a concentration in health care administration. It was there that he decided patient safety and process improvement would be his next career path — and despite a roadblock thrown in his way, he made it happen.
Perseverance Pays Off
“During the course of my capstone for my graduate degree I was encouraged by my professor to explore my interests in quality management,” explains the therapist. An interview with the director of quality management at Banner Desert Medical Center, however, quickly dampened his enthusiasm.
“I left feeling discouraged, as I was reminded that having an RN credential was ‘preferred’ for a quality management position,” says Crawford.
Was his original choice to forego nursing in favor of RT a mistake?
Another therapist might have said yes. But not Crawford. Instead he went to work convincing the director he could do the job. “I was determined to prove that an RT with clinical, regulatory, and managerial experience could be an asset to the quality management department.”
It worked! Crawford was offered the position just a few short weeks later. Now, as a quality management specialist at Banner, his responsibilities run the gamut from Leadership Patient Safety Walk-rounds, to investigating safety and sentinel events, to leading process improvement projects, to auditing surgeries to ensure adherence to patient safety requirements. He also leads safety related task forces, supports implementation of quality and patient safety goals, and facilitates peer review activities for physicians and other health care providers.
Trusted Member of the Team
“I have now been working as a quality management specialist for eight months. I continue to learn new things every day and I am proud to be making a positive impact on the quality of care and the safety of patients throughout our facility,” says the AARC member.
Along the way, he’s earned the trust and respect of his colleagues as well, who now know that a respiratory therapist can succeed in the job. “Since accepting the position I have received nothing but encouragement and support from my direct supervisor, administration, and colleagues,” says Crawford.
Alan Crawford’s top ten tips for his fellow RT Millennails —
- Become a member of professional organizations and be involved in them.
- Get engaged; volunteer for a project.
- Build a strong ethical foundation.
- Build relationships with everyone you come into contact with; peers, directors, and administrators.
- Never stop learning. Continue your growth, both academically and professionally; read, research, and participate!
- Set the bar and set it high — establish personal and professional goals that are attainable within one year.
- Find a mentor or colleague who will encourage and challenge you and assist you in reaching your goals.
- Break down the “Silos!” The phrases, “that’s a nursing responsibility” or “that’s an RT responsibility,” should no longer be in your vocabulary. We are all part of a team and it’s essential we all collaborate and communicate as a team and provide for the best interests of our patients.
- Management does not mean “sitting behind a desk.” We need engaged managers and directors who will participate, promote, and advocate for their associates.
- Stop complaining! Don’t be a barrier to change, but endorse it. Wrap your arms around it and keep going. With all the changes from CMS and legislative reform the best thing professionals can do is educate themselves and stop crying about it.