Billy L. Hutchison, BA, RRT-NPS
I would like to thank everyone who attended our section meeting at AARC Congress 2014 in Las Vegas. It was especially great to have our medical director, Dr. Robert Aranson, there.
Even though attendance at the meeting was low, we had a very exciting and productive session. Alex Brendel and Tabatha Dragonberry gave us a wonderful breakdown of our recent survey on roles of the transport therapist. We continue to strive towards publishing a scope of practice for this specialty role. We also discussed the possibility of an expanded survey to reach more people and teams.
Also on the agenda was a membership drive to possibly include team memberships, more educational opportunities and materials, international opportunities, and a CAMTS update.
Tabatha Dragonberry was introduced as our chair-elect. She brings a wealth of knowledge and excitement to our group. Jenn Watts was introduced as our Specialty Practitioner of the Year, and what a deserving individual. You can read more about her in this issue.
Thanks to all of you for everything you do for our specialty and our section.
Tabatha Dragonberry, MEd, RRT-NPS, RRT-ACCS, AE-C, CPFT, EMT
I have met many of the members of the section, but for those of you I have yet to meet, please allow me to introduce myself and say how excited I am to serve as the chair-elect of the Surface & Air Transport Section. Meeting transport therapists from across the country at AARC Congresses over the years has been wonderful. I hope to be a resource in the coming years. Please feel free to contact me as we move forward in our profession.
I have been a transport therapist at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC for four years and am in my ninth year with the organization. During this time I have gained experience in various aspects of respiratory care. I have recently completed my Masters in Medical Education degree from the University of Cincinnati and have a passion for assisting others as they work to meet their professional goals. I have been an active member of the Virginia Society for Respiratory Care and have lectured locally and internationally.
I was introduced to the respiratory field in the early 2000s and have loved it ever since. It has been an amazing experience. I worked as a student at OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria, IL, and upon graduation moved to the Washington, DC area. I have chosen to specialize in the neonatal population, which has had it challenges and rewards.
I hope in the coming years we can see the section grow with increased membership and work together as an RT transport community. Stay safe in your travels, both ground and air.
Jennifer Watts began her career in respiratory care after earning her certificate level degree from Waubonsee Community College in 1996, but she soon returned to school, receiving her AAS degree from the College of Dupage in 1998. She achieved her RRT credential that same year, then worked for several hospitals in the Chicago suburbs before taking on a role in pediatrics at Advocate Children’s Hospital-Oak Lawn.
She spent three years in the RT department there, becoming an ECMO specialist, then joined the Neonatal Pediatric Transport Team. She’s been with the team for the past eight years and was promoted to respiratory team leader for the transport team this past year. She earned her NPS credential in 2001 and became a C-NPT in 2010.
Jennifer believes her membership in the AARC and the Transport Section add significant value to her career. “I find myself frequently going to the section discussion boards to see if certain topics have been discussed and find helpfulness in seeing what my peers are encountering throughout the field,” she says. “I view the AARC as an excellent resource for continuing education as well as an overall resource.”
In addition to her work in respiratory care transport, Jennifer was for many years an active volunteer with the American Lung Association’s Asthma Adventure Camp in northern Illinois. She began as a camper herself, then moved up the leadership team ranks and served as a staff member. After directing the education component of the camp for nine years, she was the camp director for the final two years of the camp’s existence.
Jennifer has been active on the state society level too, lecturing to Missouri state meetings and at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Most recently, she was appointed to a seat on the Illinois Society for Respiratory Care board of directors, where she is working to advance the profession in her home state. She plans to further her education as well by enrolling in a master’s degree program in respiratory care next fall. In her free time, she enjoys training in the martial arts as well as bicycling and playing softball.
Jennifer says being named our 2014 Specialty Practitioner of the Year was an unbelievable honor. “I find it difficult to be able to convey how much this honor means to me. I have tried to do the best I possibly care when providing care to my patients, and sometimes that is viewed as above and beyond by others. To me, it’s just natural. I am still in a bit of awe that I actually received this honor.”
Steve Sittig, RRT-NPS, C-NPT, FAARC
As many of you know, whenever I am traveling, be it for the AARC Congress or a CAMTS board meeting, I like to stop by the local colleges and talk with RT students about flight as a career option. Well, Las Vegas was no exception, as I was privileged to present my talk at Carrington College. I did learn something interesting in that there are actually three RT schools in Las Vegas. I was unable to speak at the other two colleges because they were on more traditional academic schedules, so they had finals followed by Christmas break.
I called the college and was connected to Dawn De Young, the program director. It was another of those cold calls in that I had to explain to Dawn what I was offering. We got approval for me to speak late in the afternoon the day prior to AARC Congress 2014. I was accompanied by our section chair-elect, Tabatha Dragonberry, and it was fun to have someone come along and get an idea of how this talk is done. She also served as my unofficial photographer for the day. We were almost late for the talk, as the cab driver we drew from the Mandalay Bay apparently had no idea where to go. Word to the wise: not a bad idea to have the location on your smartphone in case you have such an issue.
I was able to present to about 45 students, give or take a few. They were an enthusiastic bunch and appeared to enjoy the talk. Usually when I finish there are rarely questions, but this group had great questions. In addition to Dawn De Young, their clinical instructor, Holly Cechvala, was on hand as well. Holly was a transport RT at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin at one time, so she could totally understand some of the stories I told along the way.
I have had some folks wonder why I do these free lectures for RT students. The reason is, these students are our profession’s future. Rarely is there any mention of transport as a clinical specialty area during the school year. So I am hoping to inspire some of them to give transport some thought.
As we all know transport is not for everyone, with the potential of long hours and being out in sometimes suboptimal weather. But those of us who transport know the rewards; the pediatric and newborn patients we care for are especially so worth the effort.
When Dawn asked me what I would like in return for talking to her students, I thought it would be nice to get some comments from them on what they thought of transport after my talk. I am always my own worst critic when I do a lecture and I was interested in hearing their feedback.
The comments I got in return were very rewarding and made me realize I had attained my goal of encouraging them to consider transport as a potential area of specialization. As you can see by the sample of comments that appears below, it was worth the time to talk to them.
Fantastic presentation! Definitely educational and every RT should receive this PPT and knowledge. I, for one, did not seem interested in transport until this presentation. After Steven Sittig’s awesome presentation, I see transport in a whole other way. — Zachary M. Rodriguez
Your lecture was very informative and inspirational. I’m even more excited to start my respiratory career and direct it towards air transport. Thank you very much for your time this evening. — Reiniekollee Callahan
I have always been interested in transport. After hearing Steven speak and seeing the passion he has for his job, I now know that transport is what I want to do. — Amber Brooks
Steven opened up a whole new door for me. I learned a lot about transport. Thank you for coming to Carrington. — Jamila Corpin
The presentation was very interesting. It is exciting to think what the future holds for respiratory in the transport field. — Kelly Tafoya
Definitely a very interesting presentation. I’ve never thought about doing transport, but now I’m considering it. I came into school wanting to do pediatrics and now there are so many options that are opening up. Thanks for presenting to our class, see you at the conference! —Andrew Gutierrez
Highly informational. Presented opportunities that were not known before. Very inspiring. —Ismael Torres
If you would like to construct a similar talk to give in your region, let me know. I can provide you with an outline of my talk that you can tailor to your area. Also, if you know I may be in your area, contact me if your think your local RT school would like me to stop by.
Last but not least, I do need to thank Dawn and Holly for arranging a return ride to the hotel from the school, saving me the expense of a cab and a possible errant ride to my hotel destination!
Recruit a new member: Know an AARC member who could benefit from section membership? Direct them to section sign-up. It’s the easiest way to add section membership to their overall membership package.
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