Respiratory therapists are largely trained to work with adult patients while they are in school, and most therapists begin their careers caring for people who fall into the adult category.
But kids need RTs too, and if you’re the type of therapist who breaks out in a big smile whenever you’re asked to participate in the care of a little one, then you’re also probably thinking about how you can segue into neonatal-pediatric care full time.
AARC member Bob Yost, RRT, RRT-NPS, is the education coordinator for respiratory care at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital in Knoxville. He has four great pieces of advice for anyone who has their eye on a career in this specialty area —
- Pick out other caregivers who seem to have that magical “touch,” and do neo-peds care better than anyone else you work with. Emulate the parts of their caregiving that strike a chord in you. Reason: There is no better and more enjoyable way of improving one’s own skill set while at the same time extending appreciation to some of your remarkable co-workers.
- Embrace the role of being a clinical problem solver. Vow to make a busy RN or a parent ask only once for help with a vent alarm or to assess a worrisome respiratory status. Accept the responsibility you are being asked to take, and always try to finish the job. Reason: There is no better way to send the message that you can be depended upon in any situation and that nothing is more important than the child that someone has expressed concern about. You will quickly become a “go to” peds person.
- Do what you can to remain current on the latest neo-peds developments and discussions. Attend conferences. Take notes and ask questions. Select a range of neo-peds literature or discussion groups you can handle and read them. Reason: The providers you work with do their reading. They will value and respect more readily input from other caregivers who they sense are doing the same.
- Enjoy the ride. Enjoy the kids and appreciate the love for them that you will see from families, amazing foster parents, and the many others who voluntarily offer help and caring. Reason: Neo-peds can be a heart-wrenching business at times, as we all know. You have to deal with the bad and do your best to really, really celebrate and remember the good.
What else can you do to up your neo-peds credibility? Therapists who work in this setting will tell you earning the Neonatal-Pediatric Specialist credential from the NBRC is essential.
Need to prepare for the NPS? Check out the AARC’s Neonatal-Pediatric Specialist Course. It’s a great way to get ready for the exam and learn much more about caring for infants and children with respiratory conditions at the same time.