No matter where you are, no matter the specialty, you, as a respiratory therapist, do a lot. Helping patients breathe is only a small part of the skills and work RTs perform each day.
We checked in with Ron Pasewald, BS, RRT-ACCS, RCP, senior respiratory care practitioner for Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin, to share examples of the tasks that RTs do that people—including fellow health care professionals—may not realize are RT-related skills. Here’s what he came up with:
- Staffing in standalone ER’s
- PICC lines
- COPD/Asthma Navigator, Manager, and Educator
- Perform and result ABGs
- Respiratory Care and the Military
- Medical Missions
- Case Management
- Work in Pulmonary Clinics
- Flight and transport crew member
- Home visits that incorporate patient assessments and training for DME equipment
- Diagnostic testing including EEG and EKG
- Clinical Specialist for medical equipment manufactures and pharmacological companies
Tips for promoting yourself
Pasewald offered examples RTs can implement to promote themselves and the profession among their colleagues:
- Participate in multi-disciplinary committees.
- Take part in high school career weeks and events to promote the respiratory care profession.
- Promote through social media.
- Represent Respiratory Care at the legislative level. Lobby in State and Federal governments—especially during PACT week!
- Find a way that RTs can help with new initiatives, whether they are work or community-based.
- Act professional. “That’s not my job” should never be part of a therapist’s vocabulary.
- Celebrate RC week at work. Put articles in hospital news documents that explain what RTs do for their facility
WSRC gains public awareness
This last summer, members of the Wisconsin Society for Respiratory Care (WSRC) worked together to develop a respiratory care commercial (Check it out at the WSRC website!). The WSRC hoped to achieve the following goals through this project:
- Improve public awareness of what the role of a Respiratory Care Practitioner is.
- Recruit students in order to build the profession.
“One of the big obstacles in respiratory care is answering ‘what do we do, who are we, and is that like a nurse?’” Pasewald said. “We wanted to quench these misconceptions by developing a commercial that shows the skills of an RT and how it delineates from the nursing profession.”
The commercial promotes respiratory care as a profession, distinguishing it from other similar health professions, such as nursing.
“These two professions attract the same type of caring, thoughtful, and intelligent individuals and it is extremely important that we market ourselves appropriately,” Pasewald said. “The future growth of respiratory care is dependent on the recruitment of talented individuals.”
The WSRC focused on high school students to catch these future professionals as they are starting to look for career ideas.
“They will never choose respiratory care if we don’t get out there and market ourselves,” Pasewald said.
To do this, the WSRC attended high school career events and used social media platforms to share their commercial. They are also exploring other advertising opportunities to broaden their marketing strategy.
“Although this strategy is focused on recruitment of respiratory care students, it also helps us with educating other medical professions, state legislators, and the general public,” Pasewald said. “Marketing our profession to everyone should have a ripple effect downstream, in regard to future legislation, scope of practice, transparency, and respect.”
Key to future growth
According to Pasewald, marketing the profession appropriately is the key to future growth.
“We need to maintain a strong workforce,” Pasewald said, “so we can continue expanding our scope of practice including ECMO, PICC lines, arterial lines, intubations, telehealth disease management, staffing stand-alone emergency rooms, flight crews, home visits with assessments and equipment training, advanced diagnostic testing, case management, education, and leadership positions.”
Pasewald also urges his fellow AARC members to promote the profession to colleagues by getting involved and being active in your organization.
“In other words, we need to be involved and motivated with everything at all times,” Pasewald said. “One of my favorite sayings is: If you are not at the table, you are on the menu. This is so true. If we do not lobby for ourselves, no one is going to do it for us. Our patients deserve this, and we deserve this.”
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