Define “Difficult”

difficult respiratory therapist

Respiratory care managers understandably want their departments to be places of calm where everyone works together in the best interests of their patients. So, does that mean you will crater your career potential if you speak up about something you believe can or should be changed or improved?

Will the dreaded “difficult” label be permanently affixed to your employee records just because you questioned the system?

Unfortunately, in some departments that might be the case. But long-time RC manager Scott Reistad, BA, RRT, CPFT, FAARC, who now works as a hospital respiratory care specialist for Philips-Respironics, believes it shouldn’t be.

Think outside the box

“Sometimes ‘difficult’ can be hard to define,” Reistad said. “Just because one has a different opinion doesn’t necessarily mean they are ‘difficult.’” In his experience, these staff members can often be just what the department needs to truly move forward.

He saw it time and time again in the RC department management positions he held dating back to the 1980s.

“Some of my most innovative and talented RTs have sometimes been very challenging to work with as they do not blindly accept the axiom, ‘We’ve always done it that way,’” Reistad said.

Instead, these individuals questioned the status quo and oftentimes they helped him see that a new and better option really did exist.

“I’m not always correct,” he said. “In fact, most of the time, better ideas come from the staff.”

The key, of course, is to be able to tell the difference between a valid point or a better idea and simple complaining.

Reistad says it all comes down to thinking outside of the box, and that’s true not just for the staff member with the opposing views but for the manager who is faced with an employee who doesn’t always agree with him as well. He has always tried to take the attitude that he is not always right and gives those opposing views the airing they deserve.

He offers this quote from 19th century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer to illustrate his point: “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

Nothing ventured, nothing gained

So, the next time you see something in your department that you really believe needs to be changed or improved upon, consider how you can effectively bring the topic up with your manager. Sure, you may be shot down. But you might find your manager appreciates your concerns instead and is willing to work with you to effect the change.