By Diamond Nogueira
I recently had the opportunity to attend the 61st International Respiratory Convention & Exhibition in Tampa, FL. This was a once in a lifetime chance for an RT student like myself. I was privileged to sit with the House of Delegates (HOD) prior to the convention and witnessed what goes on behind the scenes of the AARC. I learned so much about the evolving practice and wonderful advancements of respiratory therapy.
This really was a catapult for the beginning of my career in many ways, and here are the top five things I learned during the experience —
1. The respiratory therapy profession is gaining more importance and recognition as the AARC continues to push for a tobacco-free future. I first was informed of this during the HOD meeting, where I learned that the AARC has joined with the CDC on a smoking cessation campaign referred to as the TIPS program. This program is designed to educate people about the devastating effects of tobacco use and to encourage people to quit and provide tools and resources to help them on the path to smoking cessation.
Secondly, I learned more about smoking cessation progress during the Keynote Address titled “Tobacco Wars! The Battle for A Smoke-free Society.” The speaker was Patrick Reynolds, who is the grandson of tobacco company founder, R.J. Reynolds. In 1986 Mr. Reynolds spoke out against big tobacco companies after their products took the life of his father and eldest brother. He has campaigned for the FDA’s regulation of all forms of tobacco and e-cigarettes. He also discussed our importance and how together we can create a smoke-free society.
2. I had the chance to network with students from around the U.S. during the two days I spent with the HOD. This gave us all a chance to hear about what is going on around the campuses to continue the worldwide education and evolution of respiratory care. This profession is gaining recognition, and with the passion and drive we saw in the delegates and ourselves I know respiratory therapy will be in good hands going forward.
3. I had the privilege to network with legendary respiratory therapists and advocates throughout my time in Tampa. This enriched my passion for this profession I chose even more. My mother has COPD, so this profession is personal and important.
4. I learned that our profession is celebrated beyond the hospital doors. There was an awards ceremony celebrating some wonderful therapists. The evening to follow was an opening reception sponsored by Drager. It’s nice to know RTs are important not only to patients and their families but to the entire hospital team and the medical companies who rely on us. But mostly we are noticed by our peers, the other seasoned RTs. I feel as a future RT, the sky is the limit, and choosing this profession was the right choice.
5. Last but not least I learned that what will help me advance the start of my career is to be an active member of the AARC and become involved with my state society, the Respiratory Care Society of Washington (RCSW). As a student I have already become involved and have shared my experiences and what I learned with fellow students. The goal is to keep my involvement with the RCSW and AARC throughout my career and through retirement. I look forward to this journey and feel I have found a second family, and it’s with the RCSW and the AARC.
Diamond Nogueira is a student in the RC program at Tacoma Community College in Tacoma, WA.