Putting Your Best Foot Forward in Clinical Rotations

best foot forward clinical rotations

RT students hear it time and time again from their professors: your clinical rotations are really job interviews in disguise. Well, okay, but what, exactly, are respiratory care departments looking for in the students who come into their facilities? And what types of things would make them say “no way” when considering a student for employment?

We turned to members of the AARC Specialty Sections to find out what rubs them right way when it comes to students — and what rubs them the wrong way. Here’s a sample of what they had to say, in their own words:

The positives

Curiosity is always a good sign. A questioning student, even when they challenge the instructor based on how skills are taught from one institution to another, is helpful.
— Mary Ann Couture, MS, RRT-ACCS, RRT-NPS, Hartford Hospital, Hartford, CT

I want students who are eager to learn, students who are pleasant and friendly, and students that want to work towards independence, gaining skills, and confidence.
— Katherine Konopka, MSH, RRT, Northside Medical Center, Youngstown, OH

I look for a great work ethic. I can teach skills, I can’t teach work ethic.
— Judy Jaspers, RRT, RN, Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, Cheyenne, WY

They know how to approach physicians, nurses, other technology team members without coming out looking defensive or offensive. They are not afraid of or intimidated by equipment they have been taught about.
— John Rinck, MBA, RRT-NPS, CPFT, Spring Arbor University, Traverse City, MI

Top three reasons for hiring a student: enthusiasm, clinical knowledge and abilities, teamwork with my staff, nurses, and hospital staff.
— Mary Silder, BA, RRT, Little Company of Mary Hospital, Evergreen Park, IL

Students who show the interest to better themselves and the profession they chose … I am thrilled when I have a student who can talk about lung protection and current evidence based care, or COPD and the GOLD guidelines and how we can best treat these patients.
— Jon C. Inkrott, RRT-ACCS, Florida Hospital Orlando, Orlando, FL

Be a self-starter and show initiative when it comes to getting hands-on experience. This demonstrates work ethic and desire to be part of the team.
— Michael W. Jones, MHS, RRT, University Health System, San Antonio, TX

I look to see if they are able to apply their knowledge of pathophysiology to a patient with a level of understanding that demonstrates they understand the causes of dyspnea.
— Trina M. Limberg, BS, RRT, FAARC, MAACVPR, UC San Diego Health System, San Diego, CA

My personal bias is that it is not always the “A” student who makes the best practitioner in the long run. Individuals who are “book-smart” are not always those who possess the best “people skills.” It is much easier to perfect the technical skills once they come to work, but improving the “people skills” is not an easy venture!
— Pat Vaughn, MEd, RRT, Francis Tuttle Technology Center, Oklahoma City, OK

Knowing when to ask questions if they don’t understand something. Better to ask than make a mistake.
— Debbie Koehl, MS, RRT, AE-C, FAARC, Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital, Indianapolis, IN

I look for interest in what they are learning in the clinical setting, knowledge of diseases and pathophysiology from their didactic training, and motivation.
— Anne M. Hamilton, BS, RRT, McLaren-Bay Region, Saginaw, MI

Being employed in respiratory care requires a passion to learn and an interest in lifelong learning … They need to be actively engaged in learning at the bedside.
— Kenneth J. Miller, MEd, RRT-ACCS, RRT-NPS, Lehigh Valley Hospital, Bath, PA

The negatives

I don’t appreciate students who bring a lot of personal baggage to clinicals. Leave the personal problems at home, I don’t want to hear it. Likewise, students should not involve themselves in department politics!
— Judy Jaspers, RRT, RN, Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, Cheyenne, WY

Don’t be a clock watcher at clinic. Being ready to BOLT out the door at 1458 is NOT showing initiative or utilizing clinic time wisely.
— Michelle McKay, RRT-ACCS, St. Mary Mercy Hospital, Livonia, MI

Frequent restroom breaks, which often means personal texting. I once caught my student texting to another student from another institution, commenting on what they were receiving from a mass casualty. She had to be reminded of HIPAA violations.
— Mary Ann Couture, MS, RRT-ACCS, RRT-NPS, Hartford Hospital, Hartford, CT

If you can’t be a patient person and love your patients and what you do, then you will not work out in this field … It’s not about how fast you can get to breakfast or have a break. Take your time and understand these folks are sick and NEED YOU.
— Jon C. Inkrott, RRT-ACCS, Florida Hospital Orlando, Orlando, FL

Constantly on their phone, especially in front of patients and visitors. This sends a message that they cannot be bothered with what is going on and are not interested in learning. Appearance and customer service is everything.
— Michael W. Jones, MHS, RRT, University Health System, San Antonio, TX

If a student cannot report for clinicals on time and present as interested, both in mannerisms and dress, why would I want them to work for me?
— Tim Near, BS, RRT, Indiana University Health Goshen Hospital, Goshen, IN

They lack initiative to learn more, and when asked if they want to do something “extra” may respond, “Oh, I have my quota of those done. I don’t need to do that.”
— Pat Vaughn, MEd, RRT, Francis Tuttle Technology Center, Oklahoma City, OK

Not attempting to be “social” with RTs who could be your managers and/or colleagues in the future really rubs me the wrong way.
— Adam Mullaly, BSRT, RRT, Memorial Herman Texas Medical Center, Houston, TX

When students try to reinvent the field when they truly don’t have a clue.
— Vickie Sollars, CRT, Samaritan Hospital, Macon, MO

Inarticulateness in professional speech or attire. Why? We’ve worked hard to be as professionally sophisticated as we are at present, and the speed of change in health care reminds us every day that we are by no means finished.
— Bob Yost, RRT-NPS, East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, Knoxville, TN

Unwilling to learn new things — if they won’t do it as a student, they won’t do this as an employee.
— Debbie Koehl, MS, RRT, AE-C, FAARC, Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital, Indianapolis, IN

Attributes that make students unattractive to hire: complaining, pessimism, laziness.
— Jack Fried, MA, RRT, St. Mark’s Hospital, Salt Lake City, UT

When you try to teach or review a procedure with them they don’t want to participate because they have already done it once.
— Guillermo Longoria, BA, RRT, RN, Shannon Medical Center, San Angelo TX

I do not want students who are pre occupied with their cell phones or students that just do enough to get by and are lax in their behaviors.
— Katherine Konopka, MSH, RRT, Northside Medical Center, Youngstown, OH