Getting ahead in respiratory care requires a multitude of accomplishments. You have to have the right education, the right credentials, and the right experience to climb the career ladder.
But even with all of that in hand, there may be something you are missing. For many, that something is the ability to network with colleagues outside of your current work situation. According to research that’s been conducted in the area, people who develop strong professional networks are more likely to hear about new job opportunities, and they are more likely to grow their salaries faster than those who don’t as well.
Networking can also give you a new perspective on clinical care and lead to opportunities to collaborate with your peers on projects, programs, and even research studies.
If you have never tried to network with RTs beyond your own facility before, though, it can be hard to get started. Luckily, the AARC has a number of ways for you to connect with your fellow therapists —
AARConnect: The Association’s professional networking site is available to all AARC members at no extra charge and may be your best bet for getting your feet wet when it comes to reaching out to peers. The site hosts discussion lists for all eight of the AARC’s Specialty Sections (there is a nominal fee to join these groups), along with a host of other discussion lists that are available to all members for free. Find one that appeals to you, join it, and start posting questions and comments to get the conversation started.
Advocacy: The AARC advocates for a range of initiatives related to respiratory therapists and the patients they serve, on both the national and the state level. Visit this page to see what we’re doing and then volunteer to help out. Contacting your state society representatives is probably the best way to begin your involvement.
AARC State Societies: Speaking of the state societies, find the website for yours here and then make plans to attend a meeting near you. While the pandemic has curtailed live meetings over the past couple of years, many are beginning to meet again in person and this is a great way to get to know other therapists in your state and local area — including many RT managers with job openings in their departments.
AARC Meetings: The annual AARC Congress and Summer Forum have traditionally been the best places to connect with other RTs from across the country and around the world. The 2020 and 2021 meetings moved to a virtual format (Congress 2021 LIVE! will take place Dec. 1, 3, 7, and 9), but even in that environment, time has been set aside for for attendee meet and greets. Hopefully the in-person events will return in 2022, giving everyone a chance to get together again face-to-face.
As an AARC member you have all of these options at your disposal, so begin thinking about how you can put them to work building your own professional network. Reaching out to your peers can go a long way to helping you achieve your career goals.