Beyond Borders: RTs Work to Expand the Profession in Ethiopia

 Updated: June 14, 2019

  Tags: International

Becky Byrd, RRT, RRT-NPS, Karen Sawyer, RRT, RRT-NPS, Gashaw Tekele, RRT, and Phillip Platt, NNP-BC at St. Paul's Hospital Millennium Medical College (SPHMMC).
L to R: Becky Byrd, RRT, RRT-NPS, Karen Sawyer, RRT, RRT-NPS, Gashaw Tekele, RRT, and Phillip Platt, NNP-BC at St. Paul’s Hospital Millennium Medical College (SPHMMC).

To continue support of the NICU education and assist with the St. Paul’s Hospital Millennium Medical College (SPHMMC) Respiratory Care Program, Becky Byrd, MSHP, RRT, RRT-NPS, RCP, traveled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia last summer.

NICU nurses at SPHMMC
NICU nurses at SPHMMC

“The team’s purpose was to propose a Respiratory Care Curriculum to a medical management board from SPHMMC,” Byrd said. “We performed a needs assessment of the nursing staff, nurse management, and physicians in order to gauge interest/acceptance of the addition of an RT to their hospital.”

Byrd and her team visited and worked with SPHMMC guests of Wax and Gold, Inc.

A 9-year goal

“My friend and colleague of 22 years, Phillip Platt, CRNNP, is one of the co-founders of Wax and Gold, Inc. As a neonatal therapist, I was interested in helping with Neonatal Advanced Life Support with my initial invitation to Addis Ababa in 2009,” Byrd said.

Unfortunately, due to family and work responsibilities, Byrd couldn’t go to Ethiopia until 2018.

“Fast-forward nine years, and Phillip had recognized the need for a respiratory care practitioner at SPHMMC. So, he invited me in 2018 as a Respiratory Educator as well as a NICU therapist.”

Leaving a positive impact

“The biggest takeaway of my trip to Addis Ababa was the amazement—and for some, joy—of the nurses after they learned what a respiratory therapist was and all the RT job entails,” Byrd said.
She continued to describe how the nurses were genuinely excited at the possibility of another health care team member focusing on airway and breathing of their patients.

“I am absolutely honored to be able to help introduce the practice of Respiratory Care into the country of Ethiopia,” Byrd said. “I sincerely hope that our profession can have a positive impact on this country in the years to come.”

Take the opportunity

“If the opportunity for service of any type presents itself, either nationally or internationally, I highly encourage fellow AARC Members to participate,” Byrd said. “Simply sharing our basic knowledge of the Respiratory Care Profession can help our neighbors across the street or across the ocean. Personally, I believe if your heart is in serving, it will happen!”

Advanced Life Support (ALS) nurses that work in Labor & Delivery at SPHMMC. The ALS nurses deliver specialized care for infants showing signs of distress after birth.
Advanced Life Support (ALS) nurses that work in Labor & Delivery at SPHMMC. The ALS nurses deliver specialized care for infants showing signs of distress after birth.”

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