Kiley Hodge, BS, RRT, RRT-ACCS, recalls an incident during a clinical rotation in a long-term care facility while she was still a student that made her realize respiratory care was the right career for her.
“I went into the room and introduced myself to the patient, and they were struggling to breathe,” she said. “The patent was trached and on a trach collar. My education and instincts kicked in, and I grabbed the manual resuscitator and gently bagged the patient, followed by suctioning.”
It turned out the patient had a mucus plug, and she could correct it.
“This patient, who did not have a voice and only had me to help him breathe, was so grateful, and I knew then that I had chosen the right path,” she said.
A new adventure
Like many therapists who start at the bedside, though, Hodge saw her career grow in different directions over the years. Then, when she was working as an educator at Emory University in Atlanta, GA, she got an opportunity to embark on another new adventure.
“I was introduced to Vero-Biotech, who had recently launched a new tankless nitric oxide delivery system,” explained Hodge. The company was looking for clinical educators, and she was intrigued. “The part of the job that drew me in was helping the clinicians understand how to safely use the device,” she said.
Hodge joined Vero-Biotech in June of 2020. When the company decided to expand its medical information team a little over a year later, she added a new title to her list — medical information and communication specialist.
“The position is newer to our organization, the growth potential is vast, and I jumped at the chance to be a part of this team,” she said.
The job consists of serving internal and external customers by identifying, shaping, generating, and communicating product-related information that supports the safe and effective use of the company’s product. In addition, team members support the company’s call center, internal education and training, safety monitoring and reporting, and customer-facing informational needs.
They also serve as internal subject matter consultants for continuing life-cycle and validation activities.
“The reward is knowing that our customers are always supported while caring for our most vulnerable patients,” Hodge said.
The right background for the job
Her background as a respiratory therapist made her perfect for the role.
“Vero-Biotech is a company dedicated to supporting the respiratory care space,” she noted. ”As a respiratory therapist having worked in multiple care areas, I understand the challenges clinicians face daily.” The clinical expertise she gained at the bedside allows her to anticipate the problems RTs may face on the job, and it has also helped her support both her internal and external customers.
Hodge says time management and organizational skills are key to success in this position. In her case, the job required at least 10 years of experience in the acute care setting and a bachelor’s degree or higher. She also had to be certified by Vero-Biotech as an Advanced Troubleshooter and demonstrate outstanding customer service and support.
Experience in educating and training medical personnel was a requirement, along with a willingness to take calls.
Don’t shy away
While Kiley Hodge says she was afraid she might miss caring for critically ill patients when moving to industry, she found that her new role has given her a new way to help patients that she feels is just as important.
“I learned I have a greater ability to impact outcomes across many hospitals,” she said.
Her advice for other therapists who might like to make a major change in their career path like the one she made? Don’t shy away from something just because you are hesitant to give it a try.
And if industry seems interesting to you, take the time to talk with the vendors who visit your hospital to see if there might be any opportunities you could take advantage of.
“I am thankful I made this decision and joined a great organization,” she said.