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Aloan Gives Overview on Apex Recognition Processes and Significance

Apex Committee Chair Claire Aloan, MS, RRT, RRT-NPS, FAARC, answers questions about Apex recognition, its history, significance, and process.

Why is receiving Apex recognition significant to a respiratory department?

Apex recognition shows the public, the organization’s administration, and the healthcare community that a program or department functions at the highest level within the profession. It demonstrates a commitment to professional development, evidence-based care, and continuous quality improvement.

Why did AARC create the Apex recognition?

The AARC previously offered the Quality Respiratory Care Award, primarily for acute care hospital departments. The criteria for the award were limited, and the profession’s leaders wanted to expand the award to recognize additional qualities of outstanding departments. The first Apex awards in 2017 were only for acute and long-term care. Six organizations were recognized. For 2019, educational programs were added, and 16 organizations were recognized. In 2021, transport teams were added, and 26 organizations were recognized. In 2023, 29 organizations were recognized. Additionally, the award regulations were expanded to allow applications every year, although the award remains a two-year award period. For the 2024-2025 period, 11 organizations were recognized. For the 2025-2026 period, additional categories for post-acute care and international acute care have been added. The Apex committee’s goal is to be able to recognize all groups in all settings for outstanding performance.  Both new categories were developed in response to members seeking a way to demonstrate their excellence.

Why did you decide to be the chair of the Apex Committee?

As Program Director at SUNY Upstate Medical University, I applied for and received the award for the 2019-2020 period and again for 2021-2022. That process piqued my overall interest. The award standards allowed me, as an applicant, to see if I was doing all of the right things to be a top program, and prompted me to change or add some components to our curriculum,  I thought that would be a good thing to do for all programs and departments in our profession. At the same time, the AARC leadership wanted to move the award out of the AARC office and into the committee and BOD structure to increase member involvement in the award process.  The AARC president knew of my interest in the award and asked me to chair the committee, which I gladly accepted.

What is the biggest obstacle people might face in obtaining Apex recognition?  Since I have chaired the committee, the two areas that seem to hold organizations back are membership requirements and the number of staff either having or working on advanced degrees.  Membership in your professional organization is a key marker of commitment to the profession, which indicates the quality of your staff.  Our profession has committed to moving to a baccalaureate degree for entry into the profession, so this requirement supports our future plans.

What is the best benefit to receiving Apex recognition?

This is just my opinion, but the best benefit is demonstrating to your administration that you are among the best in your field, whether it be acute care, education, transport or any other category. It is nice to be recognized by your peers, but your administrators need to know what a great job you are doing! It is also a great way to emphasize to prospective students or employees that they are making a good choice to join your organization,

What do organizations who obtain Apex recognition receive?
In addition to a very nice plaque, they receive Apex lapel pins for their staff.  The AARC publicizes the award to local and national media and provides digital materials to the organization to promote the recognition internally. Organizations are also recognized by their peers at the Awards Ceremony at the AARC Congress.

To learn more about the Apex requirements and to apply, click here.


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