The respiratory care profession runs on technology, and manufacturers rely on the expertise of respiratory therapists to help them ensure that technology is truly meeting the needs of the marketplace. That means job opportunities for RTs.
Two therapists who transitioned to the industry side a number of years ago explain what went into their decision and how it’s worked out for them.
Winnie Sywulak, BS, RRT, RRT-NPS, began her career in the NICU and loved making a difference in the lives of her young patients and their families. But when she got married and had young children of her own, she knew she needed a more stable work schedule.
She found it working for a home care company providing care for technology dependent patients in the home. She ended up dabbling in sales and marketing for the company as well, and it was that experience that introduced her to the industry side of the field. Today she works as a marketing manager for Respiratory Care Solutions at Draeger, Inc.
“I really enjoyed that interaction with other clinicians, teaching others of the services we provided, and I was passionate about making a difference for patients once they were discharged,” she said.
She believes she has the chance to do that and more in her current job at Draeger. “I found my passion again to make a difference being a part of products, education, and ultimately how to potentially improve patient and staff experiences in the hospital,” Sywulak said.
Helping more patients
Work/life balance was a prime motivator for Stacy Talbot, MBA, RRT, to leave the clinical side of the profession and move to industry as well.
As a single mother, she was increasingly finding hospital hours too difficult to handle and needed a steadier schedule. But logistics weren’t the only thing that drove her to switch tracks.
“I saw the potential to continue helping others by moving to the industry side through my research and manufacturing positions,” Talbot said. “I now have the potential to help more patients by bringing these outcomes to them.”
She’s currently working in sales at Philips Healthcare and loves it.
“Industry roles are a different type of professionalism than the hospital,” she said. “One where research knowledge and business savvy are paramount.” Having her MBA was extremely helpful to her, as were mentors who advocated for her along the way.
The good news is, there are many different roles in industry that an RT could take on.
For example, therapists can work as a clinical specialist, helping to educate bedside clinicians on the devices or procedures they are using daily. They can take part in the development new technologies as a product manager. Or they can help to develop clear messaging to the market as a marketing manager.
Therapists can work in sales support, ventilation sales, training development, research, and so much more as well.
Winnie Sywulak sums it up pretty well: “There are so many opportunities that are available for clinicians to go outside the walls of the hospital and continue to make a difference in the lives of bedside clinicians, as well as our patients and their families.”
Sywulak and Talbot have some great advice for anyone considering making this kind of move.
According to Sywulak —
- No matter your aspirations, learn about the position you are interested in obtaining. Learn from someone that is in the position you are interested in, ask questions, learn about the good and the bad of their day to day.
- Most importantly if you have a desire to be in industry stay open minded and research different companies to find the right fit for you. I learned quickly that I needed to identify strategies to meet certain personal and professional goals, and finding the right company makes a world of difference.
- In this day and age, being a remote employee and working out of your home you need to be self-reliant, self-sufficient, and a self-starter.
- Along with that being a good communicator via email, voice, and even video conferencing is something to learn more about. It’s all about being flexible and working hard to find the reward in your day to day work environment.
- I have been fortunate to travel to many different countries while working within industry and learned the importance of being humble to learn from others and how they do business and provide care.
- Remember to learn from each experience in your professional life; there will be a time to reflect on each and apply what you have learned.
Talbot suggests anyone who wants to pursue a position in industry ask themselves these three questions first —
- What is my ultimate goal? Different working hours, contributing to drug and/or manufacturing development, improving more lives, sales, etc.?
- Am I business-savvy? In other words, can I hold meetings with key stakeholders and voice my opinions and solutions professionally? Am I able to assess financial situations effectively?
- Am I willing to travel? Most industry jobs have some type of travel, whether it is locally, throughout the state, regionally, or nationally.