Most people in respiratory care have changed jobs at least once, and for some moving on to the next big thing is something that happens every few years or so.
Where do these folks go to look for new opportunities? We asked AARC members to tell us how they found their current jobs and what they thought about the method they used to get them.
Reach for the stars
Samantha Davis, MS, RRT, RRT-NPS, CHSE, is proof that it pays to push the envelope when you see something that interests you.
“I found my current job through the health system’s job board,” said the international instructional designer with Henry Ford Health in Detroit, MI. “The job description required a nursing degree, but the role isn’t nursing-specific.”
She made some inquiries, and the job description was changed to any clinical degree, and she got it.
“There is no one-size-fits-all approach to job searching,” said Davis. “Respiratory therapists have skills that are invaluable both at the bedside or in the board room, and our voices are desperately needed. It takes all of us to advance our profession.”
Jon C. Inkrott, RRT, RRT-ACCS, would agree. He’s a transport therapist on an adult team at AdventHealth Orlando in Orlando, FL, a position he got after the chief flight nurse and one of the flight RTs came to hear a presentation he was giving with a critical care physician at the hospital.
“After the lecture, we all chatted for a bit, and every time I would see the chief flight nurse, she would reassure me that there would be an RT position opening up and that I must apply,” he said. “About six months later, that happened, and the rest is history!”
His experience has taught him that being engaged, getting involved, and staying visible is the best way to enhance your chances of landing the job you really want.
“Be an instructor, be a preceptor, participate in rounds, offer insight about your patient’s care, be involved in your state and national organizations, because this keeps your finger on the pulse of the profession, and be a leader,” he said.
Tap into your coworkers
Jacklyn Casey, BS, RRT, is a great example of how doing well in one work setting can turn into a great opportunity in another. She found her current job as a respiratory care coordinator for St. Elizabeth Physicians in Erlander, KY. However, her previous job was as a respiratory simulation educator at St. Elizabeth Healthcare.
The job allows her to provide respiratory education and assistance with durable medical equipment and medications to patients in need.
She believes in tapping into coworkers to identify new opportunities because those are the people you trust and look up to.
“They are the best resources who can provide you with real information and insights to gain a better understanding of the role,” she said. “Some of my best friends in my adulthood are fellow RTs.”
Fellow RTs aren’t the only ones who can make a difference. For example, a nursing colleague ended up putting Patti DeJuilio, MS, RRT, RRT-ACCS, RRT-NPS, on the path to career success.
“I worked in the NICU at Northwestern Memorial Hospital for my entire career of 18 years,” she explained. “A good friend of mine is a NICU RN, and she invited me for lunch.”
This nurse had recently taken a job at a smaller Level 3 NICU that was still growing.
“Turns out there was no plan for lunch,” said DeJuilio. “She hopped in my car, handed me a banana, and told me I had an interview.”
DeJuilio accepted the position and quickly moved up the ranks to clinical specialist/educator for both the NICU and PICU and later into a management role. Furthermore, she was inspired to continue her education, receiving her master’s in respiratory care from Rush University.
From there, Northwestern Medicine gave her the opportunity to attend a leadership program at Kellogg University, and now she’s director of respiratory care, sleep medicine, and neurodiagnostics at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield, IL.
“My approach is be brave,” she said. “Don’t shy away from opportunity and march forward with confidence.”
Stacey Blank, MS, BTPS, RRT, believes her decision to advance her education played a large part in getting her the job she has now.
“After completing my MS in population health from Thomas Jefferson University, my goal was to find a job where I could utilize my degree to a greater extent than where RT could take me,” she said. “I started my search at my own institution and was fortunate to get an interview for a new position in the population health department.”
Today she’s a community engagement coordinator at UPMC Western Maryland in Cumberland. This position allows her to be part of a large-scale effort to bring prediabetes and diabetes awareness and treatment programs to her community.
Of course, there are many more traditional ways to find a new job too. For example, the Careers section of AARC.org offers targeted job openings just for RTs, and many people find sites like Linkedin helpful as well.
“I found my current job using the Indeed.com website,” said Charles Almeda, RRT, RRT-NPS, manager at UNC REX Healthcare in Wake Forest, NC. “I find that site very useful as I can easily filter the job name — for example, respiratory director, etc. — and location.”
He’s found open positions throughout the U.S. and even some outside of the U.S.
“Because of its ease of use, I would recommend it to someone who is looking for jobs, especially if one is focusing their search out of state,” said Almeda.
Believe in yourself
Sometimes, though, opportunities are what you decide to make of them. That was the case many years ago for Bill Baker, RRT.
“I was a single father with a one-year-old daughter. I couldn’t make enough at the hospital with all the call off’s, especially during the summer slow season,” he said. “I found a DME job, worked it one year, and said, ‘self, you can do this.’”
So with $5,000 he got from a credit card he received because he owned a house he purchased through the G.I. Bill, Baker invested in some used concentrators and a cylinder filling system that could fill one cylinder at a time, learned how to do Medicare billing for DME, and set up shop on his own.
“My first patient was a retired Marine who was assigned to find the ‘code talkers’ in WWII,” he said. Before he knew it, that one patient had turned into ten patients, and then 20 patients, and then companies began coming to his place of business to sell him even more equipment on a signature, and business was good.
He kept his hospital job for several years while he was developing his company, but eventually left in 1990. Today RxO2 Oxygen & Medical Equipment Supply Co. Inc.
serves greater southern Arizona with RT and DME services, including FDA oxygen filler operations. They also have contracts with hospice and insurance companies.
Keep your eyes open
As these therapists show, opportunities are everywhere in respiratory care, whether you are looking to take on a non-traditional role, advance along a traditional track, or even go into business for yourself.