With all the things most of us have on our plates these days — work, kids, extracurricular activities — it’s only natural for “no” to be the first thing we think of when our bosses suggest we take on something extra on the job.
Respiratory care managers will be the first tell you that’s not the way to get ahead in your career. People who learn to say “yes” instead have a significant leg up on the competition.
As manager of respiratory care services at Rush-Copley Medical Center in Aurora, IL, Ruth Karales, BS, RRT, regularly asks her RT staff to take on additional roles and responsibilities.
“I routinely ask all staff to bring suggestions and evidence-based recommendations related to patient care, supplies, and process improvement forward,” she said.
She lets them know she’ll be there to assist them as they do the research, implement the changes, market the success story to the organization, and the like. But they must do the work — including publishing their findings, if the project warrants — themselves.
Therapists who don’t want to take on that level of involvement have plenty of other ways to say “yes” too, including by serving on organizational committees and working with students — two areas Karales believes are especially important for anyone seeking to boost their career.
Therapists who serve on committees increase their exposure to the organization and its leaders and they also get the chance to see a “big picture” view of how process change promotes growth.
Working with students — inside and outside of the respiratory care profession — grows the RT’s ability to teach and may even open an opportunity to serve as an adjunct professor at a local college.
A good example
Karales says therapists who are willing to take on tasks like these are seen as leaders with the potential to take on even bigger roles, not only by department management, but also by nurses and physicians in the hospital. She cites one example that proves it.
“A staff therapist with excellent clinical skills who was always positive and willing to help any team member with assignments offered to be the ‘super user’ for new equipment and assist in competency of new equipment and ‘skills’ day for RT each year,” she explains.
When the department decided to create a charge therapist for each shift, this RT was viewed by everyone as a natural for the job. That promotion has now led the therapist to be selected as the EPIC-certified trainer not just for the hospital, but for the entire organization as well.
“Currently, this therapist is away at training and has already been asked to spread out to different ancillary departments for training,” Karales said. “This therapist, and I as their manager, am excited about a possible new avenue that is opening up, but also excited about how this new skill set can improve our current workflow.”
Karales’ top three bits of advice
What advice does Ruth Karales have for RTs trying to decide whether or not to take on additional responsibilities at work? These three things top her list —
- You don’t need a title to lead. We are all leaders. Once you are seen as a leader without the title, the title and promotion will come. This calls the true leaders out and is the force behind all success.
- See your “project” to completion. You do not want to be known as someone who does not finish what was started.
- If the end result is not what you anticipated, press on. Don’t become negative. Keep offering up process improvements. At some point, your persistence will be rewarded. Remember, change comes slowly in health care.