Successful People: 5 Ways I’ve Enhanced My Career

What’s the best way to find out how highly successful people got where they are today? We think the easiest path is to ask them, and that’s what we’re going to do in this series of “Successful People” articles in Career News over the coming year.

Aubree KuenyLisa M. Trujillo, DHSc, RRT, FAARC

Lisa M. Trujillo, DHSc, RRT, FAARC, an associate professor and program director of the respiratory care program at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, KS, starts us off in this edition with her list of the top five things she did to enhance her career in respiratory care —

  • Education: I completed my BS degree concurrently with my AS degree over 20 years ago and thought that I was done with my education. I was ready to be an RT, and additional education was relegated to my long-term goals at best. However, after gaining experience as an RT, I had the opportunity to shift my career toward the educational setting. I was surrounded by colleagues who mentored me and encouraged higher education as part of my professional track. Subsequently, I completed an MSRC and a DHSc with an emphasis on global health. Although I couldn’t quite see the need for advanced degrees as a new BSRT graduate, I can see now how further education opened doors for me that might not otherwise have been available. If I could recommend one thing to RTs, it would be to advance your education!
Aubree KuenyLisa Trujillo met many wonderful colleagues when she traveled to Sihanouk Hospital Center of Hope in Phnom Penh, Cambodia as a Fulbright Specialist.
  • AARC Meetings: I genuinely look forward to participating in the AARC Summer Forum and AARC International Congress every year. These meetings bring RTs from across the country and around the world to one place to promote education and foster relationships. Being able to sit among colleagues in a room and learn from RTs who work at the top of our profession, whether it be bedside care, research, or education, is amazing. Each time I attend — and I include our recent virtual events brought on due to the pandemic — I leave enlightened and rejuvenated. What I learn from these events motivates me to be better, work harder, and grow as a professional.
  • Professional Service: Some of my most significant learning opportunities have come through my participation in my state affiliate and the AARC. It began when I was an RT student, and attending our state society meetings was required. This practice served as a great introduction to becoming engaged as a professional. My interest grew from there, and I eventually served as an elected member of my state board in various positions. This path prepared me for service on the AARC Board of Directors as a director at large for six years. Being surrounded by outstanding RT professionals and participating in activities that lead the profession on a state level–as well as nationally and internationally has added many highlights to my career.
Aubree KuenyThe first three cohorts of RT students in Ghana gather with Trujillo and other friends and supporters from the U.S.
  • Global Engagement: My father always taught me that doors don’t always open more than once and that if one opens, I should step through it. This attitude led me to countries across our globe in various capacities related to being an RT, an educator, and a health care provider. Engaging with individuals from places such as Cambodia, China, Ghana, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Abu Dhabi gave me a new lens through which I can view the world, health care, education, and, most importantly, people! I can honestly say that my global engagement has forever changed who I am in all aspects of my personal and professional life.
  • People/Networking: Ultimately, the above four areas have all provided me opportunities to meet the most amazing people! Although education and service are professionally enriching, connecting with people has made all the difference. For me, it is the people in my life, both personally and professionally, that bring me joy. The people I work with daily … the people I have found connections with locally and globally … the people who have shared part of themselves with me … and the people from whom I have learned lessons great and small are what make my career in respiratory care full and rewarding!

Dr. Trujillo’s journey through respiratory care might not be the same as yours. Still, the overarching themes she shared here — education, engagement, and service — would bode well for any therapist seeking to make the most of their career.