In a profession like respiratory care, where technology is advancing at a record pace and current thinking on best practices is ever-evolving, continuing education is a given.
Indeed, that’s why state licensing boards require RTs to meet continuing education requirements.
But many managers will tell you therapists need to do even more, and they are actively involved in helping their RTs set and meet continuing education goals focused on moving their careers forward and meeting the needs of their organizations at the same time.
Climbing the professional ladder
Earl Fulcher, MAE, RRT-NPS, directs respiratory services for University of Utah Health Care in Salt Lake City, where the high level of care provided by the academic medical center requires RTs to be at the top of their game.
He is making sure his therapists both get there and stay there.
“Several years ago we input a departmental policy to require six CEUs annually — the NBRC minimal credential requirement — which is reviewed during the annual performance evaluation,” Fulcher said.
But that’s just the start for this progressive department.
“We also implemented a professional ladder a few years ago which provides additional compensation for those therapists who obtain and maintain additional credentials, achieve higher numbers of CEUs, work toward an advanced degree, and participate in specific departmental or professional activities, such as attending related conferences and lectures,” Fulcher said.
He says he’s lucky to work for an employer where these activities are valued.
“We are fortunate in that we have funds to reimburse staff for a significant portion of continuing education expenses,” Fulcher said.
Coaching staff through goal setting
Continuing education for RTs is top of mind at Vibra Specialty Hospital in Desoto, TX, as well. In her role as RT department manager for the long-term acute care hospital, Stephanie Davis, MS, RRT, meets with her staff monthly to find out what’s working and what’s not. She uses this input to jump start their goal planning process.
“Their concerns and/or suggestions provide me with a plethora of ideas or topics for them to choose from when setting continuing education goals,” Davis said. “Once a staff member agrees to commit to a goal, they are given instructions, along with expectations and resources, to complete that goal.”
Goals can be met in a variety of ways, from providing in-services for other staff, to reading assigned articles for CEUs, or to assisting with an annual skills fair. She believes coaching staff through goal setting has boosted employee morale and it has also provided the department with a host of opportunities to meet the goals in question.
“Once a staff member has been successful in meeting their goals, they will receive recognition from the leadership team and their peers through staff meetings and huddles,” Davis said. “This method has been very successful in increasing staff involvement in continuing education and meeting the department’s goals.”