RTs Build Professional Relationships at Congress

Building professional relationships at AARC CongressThe Exhibit Hall at AARC Congress 2014 in Las Vegas was a great place to meet and greet colleagues

“The Exhibit Hall at AARC Congress 2014 in Las Vegas was a great place to meet and greet colleagues.”

We’ve all heard the old adage, “It’s not what you know that counts, it’s who you know.”

Well, that certainly isn’t true in the respiratory care profession, where evidence-based knowledge about treatments and modalities used to care for patients with respiratory conditions rules supreme.

But knowing people who are in the know can be a big career booster too. Where can you meet them? Veteran attendees at the AARC Congress advise folks headed to the 2015 meeting in Tampa, FL, this weekend to take advantage of the huge gathering of RT professionals they’ll find there to build the kind of professional relationships that move careers forward.

That’s what they did — and they’re still doing it today.

Cream of the crop

As someone who spent much of her career working in a rural area, Karen Schell, DHSc, RRT-NPS, RRT-SDS, says the Congress always provided the opportunity to tap into what she calls the “cream of the crop” among RTs to find out what these thought-leaders believed were the most significant trends in the field.

“It is exciting to bring back information, implement it, have it work, and have those around you recognize that you make an impact on the care of the patient,” says Schell, who now serves as a clinical assistant professor in the RC program at the University of Kansas in Kansas City, KS. The friendships she built at the event have been long-lasting too. “I know that I can always reach out to some of those connections to help me through a new service, policy, or problem.”

Ellen Becker, PhD, RRT-NPS, FAARC, a professor in the department of cardiopulmonary sciences at Rush University in Chicago, IL, says her Congress connections have made a big impact not only on her career, but indirectly, on those of her students as well.

“Earlier in my career, students struggled with low RRT pass rates,” she says. “I attended the AARC Congress and paid attention to which speakers mentioned their high pass rate successes and approached those individuals to learn more about their program structures. After implementing tips they provided me, the RRT pass rates improved.”

Open door policy

As a clinical practitioner, Lesley A. Smith, RRT-NPS, RRT-ACCS, RPFT, took advantage of the open door policy among Congress presenters to ask questions and seek additional guidance. “The lectures, of course, were incredibly eye-opening, and I would frequently approach the speaker afterwards to discuss the topic.” Often she would walk away with the person’s email address and the offer of more information post-Congress too.

The knowledge she gained was invaluable in treating her patients during her years at the bedside, but now that she’s moved into industry with her position at MAQUET Medical Systems, USA, she finds the networking opportunities at the meeting just as important.

“It’s great to visit with my colleagues when they come to see me in the booth,” says critical care account manager. “I still feel like I’m a part of improving patient care with the products that I represent, and I have an additional goal now of assisting respiratory care practitioners in improving their workflow by maximizing their knowledge of the tools they have available.

Networking with colleagues in the Neurorespiratory Roundtable has proven especially valuable for Steve Gavras, CRT, LVN, a therapist at New West Medical in Redding, CA. “We were able to meet face-to-face and exchange ideas to make plans for policy and for the future.”

He believes those experiences have expanded his professional horizons. “Primarily, my career has mainly benefitted from gaining new ideas and approaches, as well as forming relationships that allow me to communicate with distant colleagues for ongoing brainstorming for issues that come up in our rapidly changing professional and technical environments.”

Best and brightest

Brian Cayko, MBA, RRT, director of clinical education at Great Falls College/Montana State University in Great Falls, MT, makes it a point to attend the Specialty Section meetings held during the Congress, noting these sessions always provide a great opportunity to meet “some of the best and brightest” in the field. “It provides an excellent platform to meet the authors of the textbooks we learned from, researchers that are publishing in RESPIRATORY CARE, and board members and delegates from the AARC.”

The relationships he has fostered with some of those folks have gone on to create professional opportunities for him that he believes he would not have had otherwise. Thanks to friendships that began at the Congress, he has gained seats on AARC committees, served in the House of Delegates and on the Political Advocacy Contact Team, and authored several articles in AARC publications. “That would not have been possible without connections made during the AARC Congress.”

That’s the why, here’s the how

So, that answers the question, “Where can you meet people in the know?” Ellen Becker has some great advice on how to meet them when you’re at the Congress as well.

“To enhance my networking skills, every evening I attempt to go out with a different mix of individuals,” says the educator. “I simply ask people around me — some whom I have just met — if anyone does not have dinner plans. My goal is to bring together a diverse group of individuals, and I meet many new interesting colleagues.”