With the busy lives we all lead, most of us would say the last thing we need at work is to get involved in something that will require us to put in even more hours than we already do.
But respiratory care managers will tell you that’s shortsighted. RTs who volunteer to take on special projects on the job are doing more than just serving the good of their organizations. They’re positioning themselves for success.
“Getting involved usually means learning new skills while collaborating with others,” says Cheryl Hoerr, MBA, RRT, FAARC, director of respiratory services, the sleep center, and neurology services at Phelps County Regional Medical Center in Rolla, MO. “Therapists who are willing to do something outside of their ‘usual routine’ have greater flexibility when it comes to considering new ideas and new ways of doing things.”
In her department opportunities are almost always available. RTs are needed to represent the department on groups ranging from the Patient Safety Council to the Infection Control Committee, and they can also get involved as a member of the hospital’s “Spirt of Service” team, which plans employee recognition and other events. Departmental activities like organizing birthday and holiday celebrations count as well.
“As a manager, when I’m looking to promote someone, I’m going to give serious consideration to those therapists who have shown themselves willing to get involved and do more than just the minimum expected on their job description,” says the AARC member.
Keith Torgerud, MBA, RRT, director of respiratory care and cardiopulmonary diagnostics at Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Healthcare in La Crosse, WI, says RTs in his department can get involved in groups looking at RT practice, education, and documentation, and they can also play a role in nursing education.
“Service is important, as it gives leaders a special opportunity to identify strengths and opportunities of staff beyond their clinical practice,” says the AARC member. “This often translates nicely to a resume.”
To him, the engaged staff member is the most productive staff member, and that translates to success at the next level. These are the employees who demonstrate strong leadership skills and “differentiate themselves from the rest.”
At the UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA, Jeffrey Davis, BS, RRT, has established a practice council that, similar to nursing unit practice councils, looks at patient care practice opportunities and helps to develop departmental policies. Staff members who volunteer to sit on the council set the standard for other staff, and they also rise to the top of his list for promotions.
Involvement in other professional activities – including those in the California Society for Respiratory Care – do the same thing.
“First and foremost, it shows me, as their manager, engagement in their career,” says the AARC member. “Volunteerism within the department and your career displays a high level of professionalism and leadership engagement, and it is what I constantly look for on my teams.”