Respiratory therapists learn a lot about mechanical ventilation and other aspects of critical care during their educational programs. Indeed, there is no more vital role of the RT than keeping critically ill people breathing in the ICU.
But succeeding in the critical care setting takes more than just the skills learned in school. AARC 2016 Adult Acute Care Section Specialty Practitioner of the Year Ron Pasewald, BS, RRT, RRT-ACCS, shares his take on what therapists need to do to become the go-to people in their adult ICUs for patients suffering from severe respiratory distress —
- Join the specialty section of the AARC that fits your critical care job role. I joined the Adult Acute Care Section and that improved my access to leaders, educators, and researchers. We discuss articles, case studies, practices, and policy/procedures. Most importantly, this has blossomed into strong relationships with my respiratory care peers.
- Read and study. Learning is infinite. Never stop learning. Never stop studying. Read articles, clinical studies, magazines, and textbooks. It is important that you back up your practice with clinical evidence and sound science. This will increase your credibility within an organization and staff will count on you to offer medical advice for the sickest patients.
- Collaborate with MDs, RNs, and ancillary therapy staff. It is crucial that we communicate with each other and function as a high-powered multidisciplinary unit. I encourage bedside rounding with physicians, nurses, and RTs during end of shift report. If you are prepared and use proper communication, you will gain respect quickly and will be depended upon to offer advice on patient care plans.
- Be a leader in your respiratory care department. Develop educational tools for your staff, offer lectures on new topics, and update your policy/procedures to augment consistent care. Most importantly, be patient with your peers and help them grow. Cultivate a climate of trust, respect, and excitement.
- You are the respiratory care equipment expert. It is an expectation that you know how to maximize the patient-equipment interaction. Read your equipment manuals, develop equipment policies, set up simulation scenarios, and use the clinical representatives from your vendors to assist you.
- Be open-minded. New evidence appears constantly. It is important that you remain up-to-date with your practices. Practices that are popular today may not be popular tomorrow.
Earning your Adult Critical Care Specialist (ACCS) credential from the NBRC can add significant value to your career as well, since this credential places you on a level playing field with critical care nurses. For help in preparing for the NBRC’s Adult Critical Care Specialist examination, you may want to consider taking AARC’s Adult Critical Care Specialist course, designed to enhance the necessary skills for a critical care environment. For more information on the ACCS, visit the ACCS page on the NBRC website.