About Face: Why RT Educators Go Back to Clinical Practice

RT Educators to Clinical Practice

Most respiratory therapists who enter the educational arena never look back. They remain educators for the rest of their careers. But for every rule there is an exception, and we asked three AARC members who left the educational world to tell us why they decided to return to the bedside.

Transport was the job for him

When Wayne Takenaka, BBA, RRT-NPS, went from nightshift supervisor to department educator he was responsible for the educational needs of respiratory therapists at two medical centers in Honolulu, HI,  Kapi‘olani, a neonatal-pediatric facility, and Pali Momi, which is primarily an adult care center. Experience he had gained teaching the neo-peds course at his local community college helped with the transition.

But when an opening for lead transport therapist came up at Kapi‘olani, he decided that was the job for him. “The transition back into a clinical role was not difficult,” he says, noting that even in his educational role he kept up with clinical practice by covering for the charge therapist and transport RT.

The best thing about being back on the clinical side? “I don’t have to deal with HR issues!” says the RT.

Drawn back by COPD role

Gina Hoots, MSEd, RRT-ACCS, RPFT, spent three years as a director of clinical education (DCE) for a local RT program but ultimately decided the educational setting wasn’t a good match for her career goals. “It’s hard to teach students at the bedside with another clinician that disagrees with your approach, assessment, or theory,” she says. “And driving to ten clinical sites became too much.”

A new COPD program drew her back into the hospital and that’s where she’s been ever since. Now director of respiratory care and neurodiagnostic services at Decatur Memorial Hospital in Decatur, IL, she says she enjoys her job but still misses clinical care at times.

“Clinical is so much more fulfilling than education or management, however, the problem-solving side of me keeps being that resource person.”

From DCE to case management to the PFT lab

Bruce Brown’s journey back to the hospital after 12 years as the DCE for an RT program in Florida was anything but voluntary – the program shut down – and he initially struggled to find full time work, despite his master’s degree and RRT credential. After taking on some per diem shifts to make ends meet, however, a friend called with an opportunity in case management and he became the first therapist to become a full time case manager at his hospital.

“I did chart reviews, met with families, coordinated short-term and long-term rehab, coordinated hospice services, and when needed addressed inappropriate hospital admissions,” says the RT.

Today he’s happily working at Nemours Children’s Healthcare System in Orlando, where he concentrates most of his efforts in the pulmonary function lab. “Myself and other RTs do great deal of teaching and training asthma patients and we also manage 130 CF patients,” he says. They recently implemented a quality Improvement project as well, where they have patients bring all of their home equipment into the clinic once a year so they can check technique, evaluate adherence, and check nebulizer compressor function.

Brown says the AE-C credential he earned along the way is helping to open doors to initiatives like that one that are related to asthma management and adherence.