Career Choice: The Volunteer Side of Respiratory Care

The huge machine that is the AARC and its state societies would come to a crashing halt if not for the thousands of members who volunteer to serve in a wide range of capacities. What leads a young therapist to get actively involved — and how does she think that involvement has enhanced her prospects for career advancement?

3-16-15CareerKileyHodgePHOTOWe turned to Kiley Hodge, BS, RRT-ACCS, an RT at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, GA, who has been volunteering for the Georgia Society for Respiratory Care (GSRC) since she graduated from Gwinnett Technical College in 2006, for some answers.

Why did you decide to become an RT? What drew you to the profession?

My draw to respiratory came from my wanting work in health care. A friend of mine lost her mother to emphysema and I found a need to want to help people like her to breathe, which I felt was pretty important.

How and why did you first become involved in the Georgia Society?

I joined the AARC/GSRC when I was a student so that I could attend our state’s student meeting. There were going to be hospital representatives there, and my professors educated us on how being a part of your professional society can increase your chances of getting a job.

What was the first volunteer position you took on at the GSRC and how did that experience lead you to keep volunteering?

After graduation my professors approached me to see if I was willing to become a district rep, and so I did. I then ran for the Atlanta regional rep and won. I have been reelected for another term, which will end this summer. I am currently running for VP. I was also approached to help with AARC Political Advocacy Contact Team. I have been to D.C. four times now, including last week’s 2015 Advocacy Day on the 18th. I also serve on the Georgia license advisory committee. My professor, Dr. Larry Arnson, served on the license board and he is the one who approached me for this as well.

What do these positions entail?

My position as Atlanta regional rep focuses on reaching out to the district representatives to communicate with the hospitals and schools to increase membership, participate in community activities, and help out with our district seminars. I speak at our district seminars once in a while. I am one of four RTs on the State Composite Board Advisory Committee. We review applications for initial licensure, reciprocity, renewal, and reinstatement. Sometimes we advise on license issues such as scope of practice. We also interview applicants that may have an issue that may need to be further investigated. I am also our Social Media Committee chair and as such I manage the Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest pages.

How has your volunteer work at the GSRC helped to expand your professional network and why do you believe this is important for your career?

I believe that my volunteer work helped get me the job I hold at Emory University Hospital. My director also holds a position on the GSRC Board. I also work with educators and therapists from all over the state. I believe that makes us stronger as a profession. I know that if I ever need anything there will be someone in the state to help me.

What would you like to say to other young RTs about the value of volunteering for their RT organizations?

I want other young RTs to know that being involved will help you professionally by opening doors to jobs. It presents more available resources for education, sharing ideas, and helping colleagues, which ultimately leads to better patient care. The more people you know and have great working relationships with, the more able you’ll be to have a rewarding career.