This is How a Positive Attitude Can Boost Your Career

image of drink napkin with "think positive" handwritten on it

We hear it all the time — develop a positive attitude and you’ll go far in your chosen field of endeavor.

But what constitutes a “positive attitude” and how can it really help someone in respiratory care get ahead? AARC member Mike Shoemaker, MBA, RRT, RRT-NPS, AE-C, operations manager of respiratory care services, pulmonary rehab/diagnostics, and the ASME-certified Asthmania Academy at AnMed Health Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Anderson, SC, shares his take in this Q&A —

How do you define a “positive attitude” in your RT staff and why do you think these characteristics are most important?

To me, an RT with a “positive attitude” approaches the day hoping to make it better for others as opposed to making it better for themselves. This focus naturally leads them to be cheerful, thorough, helpful, and thoughtful. I believe that these characteristics help an RT become a better clinician and a better team player.

We enter the field of health care because we have an inner desire to serve and to help others. When that mindset is applied not only to our patients/families, but to our colleagues and co-workers as well, then we have no choice but to face each day with a positive attitude. Obstacles become opportunities to help when you have a positive attitude.

How can a positive attitude help an RT staff member move up in your department?

A positive attitude, to me, is one of the primary reasons to consider someone for a leadership role. A positive attitude makes a person more approachable, and this is really important for staff who are looking to move up in the department or in the organization.

As an operations manager, when I consider someone for a promotion, I am looking for two things. First, who deserves the opportunity to move up? There are always several people who land on that list. They are great clinicians, they are always on time for work, don’t have absenteeism problems, etc.

The other thing that I consider is, who will help the department get even better? This is where that positive attitude makes all the difference in the world. “Moving up” does mean taking on more responsibility within the department; however, it also means that you begin to represent your department on a larger scale.

What tips do you have for staff RTs who may need to work on their attitude? How can they overcome their negative traits to become one of the people in their department with the right attitude to get ahead?

I think there are several things that need to happen if I am going to help someone develop a more positive attitude. First and foremost, I need to have a positive attitude. It’s also important for people to get past the perception that “some people are just happy all the time.” We do have the power to choose whether we will have a positive attitude or a negative one, and it sometimes requires purposeful effort to choose positivity.

Some ideas include:

  • Don’t get caught up in any negative conversations. Either find a positive perspective or walk away — don’t let others drag you into negativity.
  • Search every situation for a reason to be thankful. For example, instead of thinking, “I was so busy today, I couldn’t get all my work done and some of those patients didn’t even need those treatments!” focus on where you made a positive difference, such as, “It was so rewarding to help someone breathe easier today.”
  • Accept imperfection — in yourself and in others.
  • Look for positive role models. These don’t have to be formal relationships; simply find someone who has the kind of attitude you want to have and watch, learn, and be inspired by that person.
  • Finally, know that you may not be able to change a situation but you can change the way you look at the situation. You can turn “difficult tasks” into “personal challenges” that you can overcome.