My First Year as an RT

first year
Jennifer Goodman rewarded herself for a great first year on the job with a trip to Hawaii earlier this month.

RT programs do a wonderful job preparing new grads to step into full time roles in respiratory care. But if you really want to know what to expect during that first year, there’s nothing like hearing about it from someone who has just lived through it. Jennifer Goodman, RRT, just finished year one, and she shares her experiences here —

Where did you go to RT school and when did you graduate?

I went to The Ohio State University and graduated in May of 2016.

When did you take your RT board exams and how did you prepare for these tests?

I took my CRT exam about two weeks after graduation in May. In order to prepare, I took practice exams on the NBRC website, went over practice problems from class, and skimmed through all of my notes from class — anything that was a little iffy I wrote down and looked at later in more depth. I did not go over anything I truly and confidently knew. For instance, I didn’t waste any time reviewing albuterol or oxygen therapy — those things are bread and butter from day one.

Which credentials have you earned so far?

I have the CRT and RRT credentials so far. I have not pursued other credentials as I wanted to take the time to learn what I really liked during my first year. I think Asthma Educator is next on my agenda. I’m all about the preventive medicine!

What was the job hunting process like for you and how many job offers did you get?

I was already working at The Ohio State University as a student respiratory technician, so I received a job offer to continue as a therapist once I graduated. During my senior practicum, I also received several job offers from hospitals wanting to hire.

Which job did you choose and why?

I decided to stay at Ohio State post-graduation, although I did make a move over to Ohio State’s University Hospital East. It’s much smaller and very different from the main hospital. I knew I’d be able to form stronger relationships with other staff at the hospital because of the smaller size.

What has it been like settling into a full time job as a respiratory therapist?

I float back and forth between the East hospital and the main Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State now; it’s a great change of pace throughout the week! Above all, my first year has been a great learning experience. I’ve learned which patient populations I enjoy working with the most as well as the kind of work environment I like.

I also had the opportunity to precept Ohio State respiratory students during their basic clinical rotations, which was a blast. I love to teach, so I was so happy to take the role. It gave me a lot of confidence in my own knowledge and abilities!

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a new therapist so far, and how have you coped with them?

Working full time without having to worry about school was a big adjustment. At first I didn’t know what to do with myself outside of work. I was involved in several activities in the community, but was missing being a student as I am a very curious soul and love to learn.

I started ballroom dancing a few months after graduation and it really filled the learning void I was feeling. It’s also a wonderful stress reliever and excellent balance to my job in the hospital, which we all know can be physically and emotionally taxing.

Within my job, it was a challenge transitioning from feeling like a student technician to a full-fledged therapist. This is actually one of the reasons I started working at Ohio State’s East Hospital; moving to a new atmosphere made me feel like I was truly moving on from being a student. I had to start over with a new staff and a totally different “community” feel.

What do you like the most about your new job and why?

My favorite part about my job is the opportunity to educate patients and other staff. I love teaching my patients about their medications, pathophysiology, and measures they can take to get better and stay healthy in the future. Sometimes the best part of my day is educating a patient on the use of a spacer! It also brings me a lot of joy to teach nurses or doctors about device set-ups or a respiratory procedure. It both builds trust and helps build a more proficient health care team.

What advice do you have for this year’s new grads who are just now getting ready to embark on their first year as a respiratory therapist?

Take every opportunity to learn in your first year. Ask the non-respiratory staff questions about their work or join a more experienced staff member to try a new procedure. Also, don’t make work your entire life. Find something else you love to do outside of work and go have fun on your days off! You’ll find you like work better when you have something to balance it.