Joseph G. Sorbello, MSEd, RT, RRT
This is my last Editor’s Note and I want to express my deep appreciation to Debbie Bunch as the actual and functional editor of all that you see. Although Debbie doesn’t author what you read on these pages, she does a magnificent job of making it all presentable, grammatically correct, and more readable for all of you. Thank you, Debbie, for your professional skills, infinite patience, and for just being a very nice person!
There are many more people than you all may realize who work behind the scenes in publishing the various online and print publications that are marked “AARC.” As you may realize, an organization is really about the people behind the scenes — behind the logo and brand. You all need to know what a fine and absolutely professional group of individuals make up the team we call “The AARC.” Although we tend to think that the AARC office is “The AARC,” it really is true that you and I are the AARC as well. We are a team and must always remember that WE are that team. I have found that there certainly IS a power in all of us that we do not realize we have. In many ways, one individual CAN and often DOES make a difference. Sometimes, an individual can make ALL the difference.
With this in mind, I ask that you find and use your yet-to-be-discovered powers and potential to add to the power of the organization we call “The AARC.” Get out of your comfort zone once in a while, stretch yourself periodically, and do something just a little extra in the name of your profession. The effort doesn’t have to be great; you just need to make an effort. One thing you can do is write an article on a topic that is interesting to you or highlight something that you have found works in your professional life. I invite you to read the piece on leadership I’ve submitted for this issue. I hope you can use some or all of it in your lives and/or in the lives of your family, colleagues, friends, or students.
Joseph G. Sorbello, MSEd, RT, RRT
As I transition from your section chair to your past chair, I want to add a sincere thank you to AARC Associate Executive Director of Education Dr. Shawna Strickland. As I pointed out in my Editor’s Note, the AARC office staff is made of up of an incredibly talented and outstanding group of individuals — not the least of whom is Shawna. She has been as perfect a colleague, support, and friend to me as chair as you could ask for in this, or any, organization. We are, indeed, fortunate to have Shawna in this position, for the profession is so much richer for her being here and doing so much for all of us. Thank you so much Shawna. I will miss working with you!
We have all seen a number of changes take place in our profession, some of them not so popular. We have seen similar changes in our health care system, with all its controversies. There is one fact that remains in all of this: there is nothing more constant than change. Change is going to happen whether we want it to happen or not, for the good or for the bad or for both.
I believe the key to coping with change lies in what is called “The 10/90 Rule”: life is 10% what happens to us and 90% what we do about it. I have never seen a better time in all my years in this profession to create our own destiny. This will require us to do some difficult but doable things. Everyone MUST work together no matter what our differences might be. We need to find common goals and work toward them for our own good and, ultimately, for the good of our patients. In negotiation, it is true that all can agree to disagree and still get the job done.
I have enjoyed my three years as chair of the Education Section. It has been an absolute honor and privilege to have served all of you. There are too many people to thank who have supported me in so many ways. So, I will simply say, “Thank you my friends. I could not have done this without your support and help. I will never forget you.”
And now, for the future: I know you will be more than pleased to have Dr. Ellen Becker as your section chair. I have known Ellen for a number of years and found her to be a consummate professional, great colleague, wonderful teacher, and a highly intelligent colleague who is quite proficient in a number of areas, particularly scholarly writing and research. You and I are fortunate to have her drive, professionalism, and leadership over the next three years!
Ellen Becker, PhD, RRT-NPS, FAARC
It was my pleasure to conduct the Education Section meeting at AARC Congress 2014 in Las Vegas. We gave a big thank you to Joe Sorbello, who skillfully led the section for the past three years.
For those of you who were unable to attend, here are a few highlights of the discussion:
We also acknowledged the winners of the five respiratory therapy programs selected to receive free ventilators donated by Draeger—
A big thanks to Draeger for supporting respiratory care education through these donations!
I am looking forward to serving as your chair for the next three years. Please let me know how I can best advocate for your educator needs.
The section was pleased to present its 2014 Educator of the Year award to Helen Sorenson, MA, RRT, FAARC. A long-time educator, Helen currently serves as an associate professor in the department of respiratory care at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio (UTHSCSA).
A prolific researcher with a passion for geriatrics, Helen was the principal investigator in a study that evaluated the effect of pulmonary rehabilitation on patients with COPD and a co-investigator on a study that surveyed the gerontology/geriatric curricular components being offered in associate and baccalaureate degree respiratory care programs. She has published in journals ranging from CHEST to the AARC’s Respiratory Care Education Annual and authored a geriatric-focused textbook, Geriatric Respiratory Care, along with numerous book chapters on geriatric patient assessment. She is currently one of the editors for the Pulmonary Clinical Concepts continuing education program.
Helen works with National Lung Health Education Program as well, promoting spirometry for patients with lung disease, and has lived out that mission by volunteering to perform spirometry at various health screenings across the country.
A former high school biology teacher, Helen joined the UTHSCSA in 2001, where she has been awarded tenure as an associate professor and named Distinguished Faculty and Teacher of the Year. She was also the founder of the inaugural Lambda Beta Society on campus and served as the first advisor to the Respiratory Care Alumni Association.
Helen has an outstanding history of service in the respiratory care community in Nebraska, Texas, and internationally. She has served as a moderator for the pulmonary rehabilitation sessions at the Texas Society for Respiratory Care state meeting and as a member of the AARC’s Clinical Practice Guidelines Steering Committee. She has been an abstract reviewer for the Open Forum presentations at the AARC Congress as well, and was a key member of the Association’s 2015 and Beyond task force.
Her students sing her praises. “Ms. Sorenson has tirelessly endeavored to bring awareness of respiratory care education and service to students and the wider community,” notes Ethan McDermith. “She not only does what is asked of her, but also works to do what must be done.”
“She always tries to make her students think above and beyond the problem that stands in front of them,” says Letty Lozano. “Her office door has always been open, whether it be to discuss school work or just to talk about what is going on with our lives.”
“Ms. Sorenson has given me the support to apply for a community service learning grant to support our elderly population who suffer from COPD,” says Cari Garcia. “The project was shared with the AARC Times and I am so excited to call her my mentor.”
Joseph G. Sorbello, MSEd, RT, RRT
As members of the AARC and other organizations, we have all had contact with those who are labeled “leaders.” I’m sure we have also wished, at times anyway, that these leaders were better at leading!
On the other hand, some of us have had the privilege of being under the leadership of those who we would follow to the ends of the earth — those who have inspired us and helped us and our organizations to be better, to achieve our goals and beyond, and to be truly excellent. If you’re in the former group, I give you my empathies. If you’re in the latter group, my smiles and “good for you’s.”
In my many years in different organizations, I have observed and experienced the effects of many so-called “leaders.” I’m happy to say that I have seen some really great ones. I am both happy and sad to have experienced some pretty sub-optimal performances by other “leaders.”
Why am I both happy and sad? Well, I’m sad because there has been a good amount of pain, mostly psychological (but pain nonetheless), associated with those people who really had no clue about leadership. As a result, many people were so distressed they needed hospitalization for that stress! Some were forced to leave their positions, others became embittered and went into some level of depression, and still others just gutted it out until they retired or the “leader” left for whatever reason. Whatever the circumstances, bad leadership has left its indelible mark upon both the organization and the people within.
Why would I be happy? I’m happy to have had the experience since it is a negative barometer for me. It stands as a lesson for me and those who would hear my stories or experience the same. Although it certainly isn’t necessary to experience that negative behavior to establish a negative set point on a psychological/leadership barometric scale, you might as well establish one if the negative behavior is there, if for no other reason than to have negative behaviors to avoid! I have not only experienced lack of leadership skills in various leaders but have been so caught up in the negativity exhibited by some leaders as to understand the following phrase quite well: “Negative people suck!” Now, I apologize for using this phrasing if it offends you, but as respiratory therapists, we do understand the “negative” and the “positive” quite well. When it comes to the mental/psychological discussion of the concept, we understand that negative people can literally suck the life out of you. No one needs or wants anyone in the organization to be this way, especially any leader within that organization.
I have found, among other things, that true leaders have and engender what I call “The Two T’s of Leadership” — Trust and Teamwork. David Horsager, author of The Trust Edge: How Top Leaders Gain Faster Results, Deeper Relationships, and A Stronger Bottom Line, talks about the attributes of the greatest leaders of our time. To a man and to a woman, they have all been highly trusted. You can have all the wonderful traits that leaders have, but if people don’t trust you, you will never obtain the results you want and need. Those who engender trust gain better output, morale, retention, innovation, loyalty, and revenue. The opposite – mistrust — produces skepticism, frustration, low productivity, low revenue, and turnover.
Teamwork is a concept that is talked about but not often operationalized in relationships or organizations. True leaders talk about their team, they teach team, work as a team, and do nearly everything as a team. “Team” is not just a concept to true leaders, it is a lifestyle. Come on, admit it, you KNOW what type of organization you have, right? Most organizations, as the popular saying goes, are organized in “silos.” Granted, there are distinct parts of the body, but they work together as a team to maintain, and hopefully maximize, function. When any team works together, it is a sight to behold, particularly when you can readily see and/or measure the results.
Being part of that team breeds a sense of accomplishment and pride. The French have a beautiful expression to describe it: esprit de corps. This means a sense of unity, of enthusiasm for common interests and responsibilities as developed amongst a group of people closely associated in a cause, objective, or goal. A true leader knows the value of the team and teamwork. It is the bond or glue that keeps a team together to promote strength, unity, reliability, and support. He/she knows that synergy increases the effectiveness and efficiency of the work that must be done. If done right, teamwork maximizes strengths that bring out the best in each team member. If the team’s work is maximized by someone who is trusted, the result is most likely going to be success, plus pride in that success. To me, this would make for a very good work atmosphere and an environment I would look forward to working in each day.
I know my thoughts on how teams and leaders should operate certainly fall on the ideal side of things. I know what I’ve stated is simple to say but far from easy to implement. It takes a tremendous effort on the part of everyone on the team to realize the full potential of the team. It takes a true leader and/or leaders to help make it reality. Are we teaching ourselves these concepts? Can we put some or all of this into practice? Most importantly, are we teaching our students these invaluable concepts? We should be teaching and modeling both trust and teamwork by our own example, for we should all be good team members and good leaders of our teams.
Recruit a new member: Know an AARC member who could benefit from section membership? Direct him/her to the AARC website. It’s the easiest way to add section membership to his/her overall membership package.
Bulletin deadlines: Winter Issue: December 1; Spring Issue: March 1; Summer Issue: June 1; Fall Issue: September 1.