Kallet: Best Career Decision I Ever Made

RichKalletPHOTORichard Kallet, MS, RRT, FAARC

Whether you’re a new therapist just beginning your career or a seasoned veteran looking back on 30 years in the profession, you’ve had to make some decisions that you knew would impact your future. It could have been deciding to go ahead and earn your RRT credential right out of school. It could have been making a choice between specializing in adult critical care or following your passion for pediatrics. It could have been taking the road less traveled and accepting a job in industry or home care.

The biggest names in respiratory care have been faced with these decisions too, and we thought it would be interesting to see what they thought was the best one they ever made and why. We’ll kick off this series with Richard Kallet, MS, RRT, FAARC, director of clinical research and quality assurance at San Francisco General Hospital in San Francisco, CA.

What was the best career decision you ever made?

Pursuing a career in clinical research.

Why was this the best career decision you ever made?

Probably the most profound impact of becoming a researcher has been on my critical thinking skills and a deep maturing in my approach to both clinical practice and in the exchange of ideas. In particular, the experience working for the NIH ARDS Network greatly opened my eyes to my own biases garnered over 20 years of prior practice. I did not believe low tidal volume ventilation in ARDS would prove effective; I did not think we could be successful using volume ventilation and without using high PEEP. On every account, objective experience proved my assumptions to be wrong.

This was both a humbling, and paradoxically, liberating experience that was reinforced time and again. I have paradoxically become both more skeptical and more open to new approaches — that is only possible if one truly embraces an agnostic, empirical approach.

Pursuing my own research was a huge challenge in terms of dealing with numerous practical problems needing creative solutions and requiring improved interpersonal skills, long periods of intense work, and intense literature reviews. The people I have met and worked with have challenged and stimulated my thinking. Their company at work and socially after work or at conferences has been an immense source of joy. In the process I have traveled to places I never imagined visiting, which has opened up new worlds for me.