Respiratory therapists begin their careers with the idea that they will go out and save lives and help people breathe easier.
For the most part, that is what they do, from their first days in the hospital to the end of their careers. But sometimes roadblocks spring up along the way that threaten to derail their initial passion for the profession.
Two AARC members share their experience with lost passion, and what they did to recover it.
Back to basics
Veering too far away from his original objectives in the field threw things out of alignment for Michael Terry, RRT, RPFT, CCRC.
“I got involved in the management of our department and this took me completely away from the bedside for years,” Terry said.
He eventually grew tired of the daily grind and struggles. He seriously considered leaving the profession, but two things happened to change his mind.
- First, he began teaching in his facility’s respiratory care program.
- And second, he ditched his managerial position and took on a new role that allowed him to see patients again and get back in touch with why he entered the profession in the first place — to help people in need.
Today he works in the Clinical Research Center at Loma Linda University Medical Center in Loma Linda, CA, assisting with cutting-edge studies aimed at improving patient care.
“I would highly recommend teaching to those who have become tired of the daily grind,” Terry said. “And for those not seeing patients on a regular basis, they should make an effort to do so occasionally.”
Look to the future
You might think that anyone who ended up as executive director of their state respiratory care board would never have experienced a loss of passion for the profession.
William L. Croft, EdD, PhD, RRT, who currently serves as executive director of the North Carolina Respiratory Care Board (NCRCB), would beg to differ. For him, disenchantment came early on in his career, when the enthusiasm he had for the profession was seriously dampened by many of the people around him.
“It was my first three years in the profession,” recalls Dr. Croft, explaining he witnessed some unprofessional actions and negative attitudes from his colleagues.
That took a big toll on his young and energetic self and he began to believe he had made a big mistake entering the profession.
A former professor and new boss ultimately turned things around for him.
First, Dan Grady, who taught in the program Dr. Croft attended, told him to think about the future of the profession and all it offered. He was active in the AARC and the North Carolina Society for Respiratory Care (NCSRC), and he suggested Dr. Croft get involved too. They were beginning to target licensure at the time, and there was plenty of work to go around.
“By this time, I was starting my third or fourth job in the profession since I was so disillusioned with the future,” says Dr. Croft. “This new job was promising, and my new boss, Kelly McClure, was also active with the AARC and NCSRC. He mentored me and insisted I get involved, so I did.”
Over the next few years, Dr. Croft served the NCSRC in several capacities and would later become president. In the meantime, he was encouraged to leave the hospital and take over the local college program, which he did for the next six years.
“Being involved with like-minded people such as Dan Grady and Kelly McClure, as well as Rick Sells, helped me see the light,” he said. “I discovered many excellent people working in our profession in North Carolina and made lifelong friends, such as Ralph Webb, among others. It gave me hope and solitude that we were on a positive trajectory.”
Dr. Croft went on to serve as program director at Sandhills Community College and earned his EdD and PhD during those years before taking on his current role at the NCRCB in 2014.
His advice for anyone struggling to regain their own professional passion is simple. “Get involved at the local, state, and national levels,” Dr. Croft said. “Surround yourself with likeminded, positive people.”
Back in business
Professional passion is one of those things that can make a real difference in your career, so follow the advice of these RTs and cultivate it every chance you get. Changes can always be made to get your passion back on track!