AARC Election 2023 — Thomas Berlin

Thomas Berlin

Director-at-Large

Thomas Berlin

Executive Director, Respiratory Care, Central Florida Division
AdventHealth
Member Since: 1983

AARC Activities:

  • Member, AARC Safe & Effective Staffing Guide Steering Group/Expert Panel 2021-2022
  • Member, AARC Benchmarking Committee 2014-2019
  • Member, AARC Management Section
  • Member, AARC 1983-Present

Affiliate Activities:

  • President, Florida Society for Respiratory Care 2019-2021
  • Past-President, Florida Society for Respiratory Care 2021-2022
  • President-Elect, Florida Society for Respiratory Care 2018-2019
  • Region 4 Director, Florida Society for Respiratory Care 2016-2018
  • Member, Board of Directors, Florida Society for Respiratory Care 2016-2022
  • Member, Florida Society for Respiratory Care 1986-Present

Related Organizations:

  • President, American Lung Association of Central Florida 2009-2010
  • Co-Founder & Chair, Florida Respiratory Leadership Network 2012-2019
  • Chair, Central Florida Advisory Council for Respiratory Care Education 2015-Present
  • Founder & Board Member, Central Florida Asthma Consortium 2000-2010
  • Founder, Open Airways for Schools Program, American Lung Association of Central Florida 1997

Education:

  • Doctor of Health Science (DHSc), Nova Southeastern University 2012
  • Master of Health Science (MSc), University of Central Florida, 1990
  • Bachelor of Science, Respiratory Therapy, University of Central Florida, 1985
  • Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT), National Board for Respiratory Care 1986

Publications:

  • Berlin, T. (2021). On finding a better way. Respiratory Care; 66(3): 531-532
  • Berlin, T. (2020). E-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury. AARCTimes; 44(3): 1-4
  • Berlin, T. (2017). The first necessity of progress. Respiratory Care; 62(12): 1613-1614
  • Bausek, N., Berlin, T., & Aldarondo, S. (2016). The power and potential of respiratory muscle training. Respiratory Equipment & Devices Magazine, European Respiratory Society 2016/2017: 86-96

Elections Committee Questions:

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the AARC and what do you recommend to address it?

Stabilizing and advancing the profession of Respiratory Care. Market pressures have created instability within the profession, even before the COVID-19 pandemic. This is evidenced by: 1) a 31% increase in RT job vacancies between 2019 and 2020, 2) 16% net reduction of new graduates into the profession between 2009 and 2019, 3) 36% of the RT workforce over the age of 50 in 2018 and increasing, and 4) through 2019, RT wage increases not keeping pace with other non-physician health professions. Add an outdated two-tiered credentialing scheme, insufficient progress toward baccalaureate entry-level, and challenges communicating the value RTs bring to our patients, communities, and healthcare system, and it is apparent we have much work to do.

Your professional association/affiliates must not only devise and communicate targeted operational and strategic plans to incrementally address each of these issues, but also engage therapists everywhere in a grass-roots effort to make a difference!

What ideas do you have to help todays Respiratory Therapist recover from the pandemic and what do you feel is the main issue Respiratory Care Practitioners are facing, and what key solutions should be addressed to support our profession?

79% of RTs reported professional burnout after the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Leaders in the profession must offer evidence-based interventions to create a more comfortable and rewarding experience for our caring and dedicated therapists. Address staffing & workload issues by not only deploying comprehensive recruiting strategies that includes engaging young people and creating excitement about a profession offering a perfect combination of high-tech/high-touch, but also offer solutions to leaders in the profession to help staff feel better supported and recognized for the critical work they do. We should have well-developed resiliency tools for both bedside practitioners and leaders to address issues with burnout. Finally, we must communicate methods to enhance the value of what we do and make every effort to eliminate waste.

Role-Specific Questions:

Your role as Director-at Large is to represent the general AARC membership. If given the opportunity to represent, how would you use your skills and experience to advance and advocate for the respiratory care profession?

My love for our profession, enhanced by a philosophy of servant-leadership and many years of experience, will serve to maintain the focus of the AARC leadership on the reason we exist: to optimize care and service to our patients by supporting and caring for those of you who have dedicated your lives caring for them. It is my honor to be a respiratory therapist and I will be honored to represent you on the AARC Board of Directors.

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