Respiratory therapy students graduating today are entering a much different employment world than those who got out of school even five or ten years ago.
With a tightening job market in many areas of the country, these new RTs are having to put a lot more into the job search. For AARC member Sarah Perry, BS, RRT, that meant getting started months before graduation was even in sight.
She went on the payroll at her current facility, Kosair Children’s Hospital (KCH) in Louisville, KY, nearly a year before finishing her RT program at Bellarmine University, which is also in Louisville. That gave her a chance to prove herself to department leaders so that when the time came to find a permanent position, she’d have a leg up on the competition.
Striving for excellence
“I worked at KCH as an RT student since July 2012 and began working as an RRT May 2013,” says the therapist. “My job search did not go far from Kosair Children’s Hospital.”
Perry says knew she wanted to care for kids, and working at the hospital as a student gave her a chance to show her work ethic to the leadership team. She strove for excellence in any and all tasks she was assigned to complete, and she also made sure leaders in the department knew she was interested in a job after graduation well before it was time to apply.
Since she was able to take only one pediatric course in school, working as a student helped her gain some of the new knowledge and skills she would need to practice as an RT in a pediatric setting as well. That made it easier to segue from her student role in the department to that of an RRT. “Had it not been for my student job at the children's hospital, I think it would have been a more difficult transition,” she says.
Planning for the future
Perry has been a practicing RRT for nearly six months now, and is loving the chance it gives her to make an impact on the lives of her patients and their families every day. “I truly enjoy patient education,” she says. “The appreciation a patient and family exude when you have taken the time to carefully explain the patient's care makes me feel I have made their time of need a little easier.”
She’s a big believer in growing her career through education and credentialing as well, and has plans to take both the Asthma Educator and Neonatal-Pediatric Specialist exams within the coming year. She’s working on her master of health science degree with a focus on education at Bellarmine as well.
Sarah Perry has these three tips for RT students seeking to kick start their careers –
- Going into an RT job search, be prepared and do your research. What patient population are you interested in? Are there requirements (i.e. RRT, bachelor's degree, certain credential), and do you meet these requirements?
- Use networking to advertise yourself and to meet people who may be able to help you in your job search.
- Make sure to have an outstanding resume. Hundreds of resumes get sent to large hospital corporations each week. You must make yourself stand out from the start.