How I Went from Bedside RT to Patient Care Coordinator in the DME Setting

Trisha Leeman|Patient Care Coordinator
Trisha Leeman is enjoying her new role as a patient care coordinator at Pacific Pulmonary Services.

Companies specializing in the provision of medical equipment and services are expanding across the country. They need clinicians who can work with members of the medical community and provide respiratory services to their patients. AARC member Trisha Leeman, BSRT, RRT, recently took on such a position — at her company, she’s called a “patient care coordinator” — and she explains how she ended up in the role in this Q&A.

When and why did you decide to become a respiratory therapist and where did you get your RT degree?

I knew from the age of 15 this was the career for me. I was a bad asthmatic when I was a kid and my grandmother had COPD. The respiratory therapists were supportive and I thought how amazing to be able to help someone breathe again. I received my degree from the State University of New York Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, NY.

How long did you work as a traditional RT and what did you most like about that role?

I was and still continue to be a traditional RT, working per-diem at a local hospital. My favorite part of working bedside is the satisfaction of seeing my patients improve over time with my help.

How did you learn about the job as a patient care coordinator in the DME setting and why did you decide to apply for it? What did it take to get the position?

I was working as an RT for Pacific Pulmonary Services when the opportunity was made available to me. There was no patient care coordinator at our location and I asked to be considered for the position. I applied because I was bored and needed a challenge for myself, as well as a chance to boost my income. Having product knowledge, an extensive background in the industry, a positive attitude, drive, and my relationships in the community helped me obtain the position.

What does the job entail?

I visit MD offices and hospitals explaining the use and benefits of our respiratory product line and our RT services provided for the patients.

What are the biggest challenges and the biggest rewards you’ve faced on the job so far?

My biggest challenge is the competition in the area. Selling the same products as other DME companies, I need to show why we stand out. My biggest reward? Breaking through to the referral source and knowing they have the confidence in my abilities to take care of their patients.

What advice do you have for other RTs who might see themselves working in a similar role? What do they need to do to prepare for such a role, and what types of things should they consider before seeking one out?

My advice to others is, don’t be afraid to go for what you want. Prepare yourself with sales training, know the product you are selling, and be confident in it as well as yourself.

Before going for a position like this, make sure you have self-discipline and are able to handle rejection often. It takes time for that first success. Build relationships.

How do you think your AARC membership helped you diversify into this new role?

Being a part of an organization like the AARC — it has helped me network and get recognition for my work in the field.