Dave has been in respiratory care for about 10 years now, and he’s still working as a bedside therapist in what he really thinks is an entry-level job. He comes to work on time every day, and he completes all the treatments assigned to him during his shift. But when promotions come up in his department, he’s always passed over in favor of someone else on the RT team.
Why hasn’t Dave been able to move up the career ladder even a little bit during his years in the profession?
Joanna Hudak, MS, RRT, RRT-NPS, manager of respiratory care and pulmonary diagnostics at Sentara Leigh Hospital in Norfolk, VA, believes a little introspection may be in order.
Perform a self-evaluation
“How do more influential therapists position themselves for success on the job?” she asked. “First, perform a self-evaluation.”
The best way to get started is to carefully look at the department you are in and determine where the opportunities to grow and learn lie. Then figure out what it will take to access them. Sometimes that may mean acquiring advanced credentials or even an advanced degree. If that’s the case, take the necessary steps to get started down those paths.
But you can also do wonders for yourself by simply reaching out of your comfort zone — which may be just coming in on time and getting your list of treatments done for the day — to see how you can be of assistance to others on the team.
“While at work, become the go-to person for assisting your peers with any concerns or problems they have,” Hudak said. Reaching out to help will raise your stature in the eyes of your fellow therapists, and your managers will take notice because every time you help out a peer means they do not have to take time away from their work to do so themselves.
She also believes it is essential to let your managers know what your goals are for your career.
“Sit down with your manager and make them aware of where and how you would like to grow, and gain their commitment in helping you achieve your goals,” she said. ”Offer yourself up for any special projects or volunteer opportunities to help network both inside your current organization and outside.”
Networking is critical, she continues, and should not be limited to just your fellow RT team members. Think about how you can connect with nursing colleagues while you are out in the hospital delivering care and speak up during rounds with physicians to offer suggestions you believe will help your patients.
Projecting the right image is paramount to your future success as well.
“Start to act like you are already in the next level up,” Hudak said. Be dependable, and always follow through on what you said you were going to do.
Little things add up
But you don’t have to do something big or flashy to gain the attention of your bosses. You can often find success in the little details of your day-to-day experience on the job.
Joanna Hudak offers these great examples of how any therapist who gives it some thought can improve their chances for advancement through the actions they carry out every day —
- Provide exceptional hand-offs to the next shift; do not sit down until all other peers are checked on.
- Be an action-oriented employee who is self-motivated; clean and put together equipment, put stock away, organize anything that looks cluttered and disorganized without being directed to do so by leadership or peers.
- The exceptional employee is always looking for ways to make the department, team, or themselves better. Do whatever you can to elevate how others view you and your team.
- Consistently be the very best you can be at your current level and ask for open feedback from leadership about your performance. Take constructive criticism as an opportunity to grow.
The respiratory care profession is full of great opportunities for advancement, but it takes some serious work to step into those advanced roles. Carve out time to think about what you are doing now at work and how you might modify some of your behaviors to benefit your chances for success.