Must-Have Skills for New RTs

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Graduation ceremonies are taking place in RT programs all over the country and that means newly minted therapists will soon be stepping into their first jobs in their new profession.

What must-have skills will their managers be looking for in these new grads? Dana Evans, MHA, RRT, RRT-NPS, is an RT manager from Illinois who regularly presents on this topic during the Student Symposium at the AARC Congress. She has eight great recommendations for anyone embarking on their first job —

  1. Communication. Clear communication is essential in health care. You will be communicating with patients, physicians, and other caregivers regularly. You cannot give great care without communicating effectively.
  2. Critical Thinking. Respiratory therapists routinely need to critically think through a situation or scenario in order to determine the best course of action. This could be related to equipment troubleshooting or evaluating a patient’s clinical status in order to make recommendations for their care.
  3. Time management. Respiratory therapists balance the needs of many patients, nurses, physicians, and fellow RTs. It can be a challenge to know what is most important and who needs your attention first. Watch your preceptor as they navigate their time management decisions, asking questions along the way so you can learn this skill.
  4. Cultural Competence/Respect. In order to successfully advocate for your patients and provide exceptional care, RTs must demonstrate cultural competency. It is vital to have compassion, understanding, and respect for your patients’ individual beliefs, values, and needs.
  5. Be open and willing to accept feedback. It seems obvious that you will not be perfect when you first transition from the classroom to the bedside. Unfortunately, some new graduates struggle when presented with opportunities for improvement. Receiving feedback is how you will grow.
  6. Be a good team player. Great RTs are good teammates. Offer to help out, pitch in, and step up when things get hectic. Your teammates will do the same for you.
  7. Commitment to growth and development. As a new grad, you should be developing your plan for staying current in the research and new evidence in our profession. How will you do that? Attending conferences, reading journals (maybe join a journal club), maintaining active membership in the AARC, and attaining higher degrees are all methods for getting this done. You must find your own path for growth.
  8. Resiliency and the ability to take care of yourself. Working in critical care and intensive situations can be very stressful and can take a toll on your overall wellbeing. Self-care is essential for managing this stress and avoiding burnout. Time with family and friends, meditation and reflection, exercise, or anything that lets you separate from your work is important. Self-care is not a luxury, is it necessity.

Concerned about affording your AARC membership as you transition from student to full-time RT? Check out our Early Professional Membership for Students page to learn more about the significant discount on dues available for young professionals through their fourth year of practice.