When Amanda Richter, MHA, RRT-NPS, RRT-ACCS, RPFT, was a freshman in college her niece had to be hospitalized with breathing issues, and that experience put her on the path to respiratory care. Since then she’s worked in a number of areas in the profession, from bedside therapist in a hospital and long-term acute care facility to home health, pulmonary rehabilitation, and pulmonary function diagnostics — much of it while employed by a traveling RT agency.
But about five years ago she began to long for something more. “I wanted to make a bigger difference than I was able to as a staff RT,” she says now.
Taking the initiative
Richter started down her path to personal and professional improvement by taking the initiative. “I would look for opportunities for improvements — at work, at home, and even with myself.” She started seeking out projects she could work on and doing things she saw needed to be done, whether she was assigned to these tasks or not.
The way this AARC member figured it, “You can’t always wait to be told what to do, you have to be willing to go out there and figure out what needs to be done and do it.”
It all paid off with promotions into supervisory and then managerial positions. Today she is director of cardiopulmonary services at the two-hospital Metroplex Health System in Killeen, TX.
What were the biggest challenges she faced along the way? According to Richter, one of her top obstacles was with dealing with the competition. “There is always someone out there with more experience, higher degrees, better credentials, and on and on,” she says.
The key for her was to look within herself and focus on what she could do best. “Rather than getting wrapped up in what everyone else has,” she continues, “I try to focus on what I do have and what I bring to the table.”
Learning to cope when things didn’t go her way required a learning curve too. “I’ve learned you just have to recognize that sometimes things won’t always work out the way you planned; you just have to learn from it and move on.”
Now that she’s in a management role, her toughest task is making sure she’s covering all her bases, all the time. “One of the biggest challenges I face every day is trying to balance the needs of the organization and the needs of the staff,” she says. “I try to embrace the daily challenges and push myself to do better, learn more, and keep moving.”
The AARC member credits her staff for keeping her going. “My staff inspires me and keeps me motivated. I think the biggest reward as a leader is helping other people grow, reach their goals, and succeed in their endeavors.”
For Richter, becoming an RT manager has been well worth the investment in time and energy she put into it and she has this advice for other therapists who would like to follow in her footsteps —
- Get involved, be active, keep learning, and look for opportunities because they won’t always come looking for you.
- Continue your education, network, participate with your state society and the AARC, and join committees, whether in your place of employment or in civic organizations in your community. Not only can you gain great leadership skills and experience through these avenues, but you can also meet people that can help you reach your goals.