Respiratory diagnostics is a dynamic specialty area requiring accuracy and precision to ensure quality test results for patients suffering from pulmonary problems.
Matt O’Brien, MS, RRT, RPFT, FAARC, is the manager of the pulmonary labs at the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics and a former chair of the AARC Respiratory Diagnostics Section. Here is his best advice for therapists who would like to become the diagnostics expert in their facilities—
- When an opportunity to lead at your facility presents itself, raise your hand and take on the challenge. Why? The new challenge will force you to learn more about a wide variety of subjects and many will be directly related to your area of specialty, be it diagnostics or another specialty.
- Submit/present an abstract related to a subject of interest related to a specific problem. After some clinical exposure, most RTs have experienced an event in health care that caused them to question, what else could we have done or checked? Use the energy (positive or negative) from the event to fuel your basic investigation. Try to keep it simple for your first abstract and look for projects with minimal risk or IRB waived projects. Publish in abstract form at a state or national meeting and consider next steps. Why? Even very basic research of a subject will leave you knowing much more than before. Research, even very basic research, will help you to assess the topic/problem with a new perspective.
- Obtain and maintain the NBRC CPFT or RPFT credential. There are several paths to earning credentials and passing an exam does not necessarily make you an expert. It does, however, signify that you put forth solid effort toward learning more, and that speaks volumes to who you are as a person. Feel good about your success but remain humble and realize there is so much more to learn.
- Join and maintain membership in the AARC Respiratory Diagnostics specialty section. Why? The AARC provides valuable representation, education, and networking opportunities.
- Attend the AARC Congress. Although funds are often sparse and even absent from employer budgets, attending Congress is a fantastic opportunity to expand your knowledge and network with colleagues.