The Benefits of the AARC House of Delegates and International Congress to RT students
By Gessilda C. Galang
Meeting with the AARC House of Delegates (HOD) was an eye-opening experience. It gave me a platform to interact with reputable professionals in my field and learn about the further prospects in my career. It was a special privilege for me that I was not merely participating as a student attendee, but I also represented my state at the conference.
About the House of Delegates
The HOD is a group of respiratory therapists elected from every state including Puerto Rico. Typically, each state sends two delegates to represent the therapists in their home state to the AARC. It is similar to how the Senate or House of Representatives represent the government. Once at the meeting, the delegates debate and cast the votes from their state on the measures brought to the House. The delegates then take information and those decisions back to their society boards and continue to implement measures to support the profession locally. The meeting provides the forum through which professionals converge to network, share their knowledge and experiences, and learn from each other. The meeting took place in Indianapolis, IN, Oct. 2-3, 2017.
As a student aspiring to become a respiratory therapist, I was eager to learn about the policies, principles and procedures that are pertinent to my field of work. The meeting was also instrumental in providing me with the opportunity of interacting with professionals in my prospective career, which I found quite enlightening as it helped me to draw key lessons from their experiences, considering that some of them had worked in the field for decades.
Julie Jackson, BS, RRT, RRT-ACCS and Amanda Albee, RRT, the HOD Student Mentorship Committee Co-Chairs, did an amazing job in putting all things together. They encouraged the students to get involved and they assured that the students were welcomed. They were dedicated in mentoring the students. The purpose of the committee is to promote the involvement of respiratory care students in the business and activities of the AARC.
A glimpse into the business
I took part in the discussion forums at the meeting, and I learned much from the Board of Directors’ deliberations on various issues about respiratory therapy, especially with regards to the various resolutions that they made and the votes they took on contentious issues. Through these forums, I got a glimpse of the business side of the respiratory care career, which goes a long way in influencing the activities in our clinical setting. Furthermore, the experience was inspirational and enriching in advancing my educational level as far as respiratory care is concerned.
Expanding my network
The House meeting gave me the opportunity to expand my network in the field. For instance, I interacted with AARC President, Brian Walsh, PhD, RRT, RRT-NPS, FAARC, and the Speaker of the House of Delegates, Keith Siegel, MBA, RRT, CPFT. Mr. Siegel specifically had a keen interest in my studies and encouraged me to develop a deep passion for the profession, claiming that it was what would give me an edge ahead of my competitors. Besides, he offered himself to be my mentor, and assured me that I could reach out to him personally in case I needed any help. I also met Daryl Rogers, MAS, RRT, who also accepted to become my mentor in the field. He advised me to invest in extensive reading of my field, as new knowledge was coming up every day due to research. Consequently, keeping abreast with it would give me a competitive edge in the field.
In addition to the HOD meeting, I felt the International Congress was special. It began with the opening ceremony where many renowned speakers shared their experience in the profession. I also felt privileged to be part of the ceremony where one of my state’s delegates, Joseph Goss, MSJ, RRT, RRT-NPS, FAARC, was inducted as a Fellow. This was an important moment for me since Joseph Goss is not just my professor, but also my mentor in this field. This motivated me to contemplate advancing my educational career to his level or even beyond in a bid to achieve the mastery in this field.
I was pleased to attend many lectures and forums aimed to boost my knowledge as a student. I met amazing people such as Dean Hess, PhD, RRT, FAARC, Garry Kauffman, MS, RRT-NPS, RPFT and Robert Kacmarek, RRT, PhD, FAARC. The passion they have in this profession was one of the reasons I challenge myself to embrace what I have now as a student and to become a better therapist.
Finally, after many lectures I got to see the exhibit hall. I wished I had more time to explore the entire place. The exhibit hall was seriously out of this world. The place was full of new gadgets and equipment that I got to see and touch. It was such a great learning experience and I really could not have planned this to be at a better time.
There’s so much more to mention, including the breakfast symposia, networking while having lunch and the extraordinary dinner I got to experience. Plus, the never-ending welcome parties every single night.
Overall, an amazing experience
In conclusion, the AARC HOD meeting and International Congress definitely was an eye-opener, particularly for students, when it came to learning about the various issues, policies, procedures and practices of our field. This is a conference that I would recommend for all students, considering that it has broadened the scope of my knowledge and my network in the field. I believe these are the key ingredients that students need to boost their prospects in the field. It was an incredible experience, but this was just the beginning!
This wonderful experience left me with an amazing feeling and the utmost respect for all in our field. It also left me with this desire to do more as a student, both in my studies and clinical practice. I was truly inspired by everyone that I came in contact with during this event. It truly was one of the most amazing experiences that I have had professionally.
Gessilda C. Galang is a Respiratory Care Senior Student currently attending school at Bergen Community College in Paramus, New Jersey. Galang is expected to graduate in May 2018. After graduation, she hopes to become a successful RRT, specializing in Neonates/Pediatric Unit. She also plans to continue advancing her education to earn a bachelor’s degree in RT and then a master’s degree in administration, which will help in her career goal to work in hospital management.