For most respiratory therapists, the first couple of years on the job are more about learning than leading. But AARC managers will tell you they begin to look for leadership potential in new grads from day one.
Why? They want to identify the future leaders in their department so they can begin to offer them the leadership opportunities they’ll need to step into leadership roles when the time is right.
“We see new graduates as an asset to our department and part of our succession planning for future leadership,” says Joel M. Brown, II, RRT, FAARC, director of respiratory care and sleep medicine services and interim director of gastroenterology and sterile processing services at Nemours – Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, DE. “When we interview new graduates we are not only evaluating their potential as a clinician, we are also evaluating their potential to be a future leader.”
For Mikki Thompson, MHA, RRT, FAARC, director of pulmonary services at South Miami Hospital in Miami, FL, new grads with leadership potential are those who have a great attitude and show a willingness to learn.
“Learn to embrace the profession that you have chosen and have flexibility, which will allow for you to adapt to our changing health care environment,” says the AARC member. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions and show that you can be counted on as a team player.”
Brown believes every RT is a leader to some extent because every RT has to be able to think quickly, make decisions, work with a multidisciplinary team, and convince everyone involved in the patient’s care – other clinicians, family members, and the patient himself – that the decisions that are being made are the right decisions.
“We are challenged finding the ‘leader amongst the leaders,’ which is a great problem to have,” says the AARC member.
Of course, not every RT can be, will be, or even wants to be promoted into a leadership position. But if that is where you see yourself going, Brown suggests letting your leadership aspirations be known.
“New graduates who want to consider leadership should speak up and say it,” he says, “It removes the guessing and allows us to start the path to leadership earlier.”