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Friday, July 2, 2010

Respiratory Fate

I remember the anticipation of becoming a real RT and actually working to help people. Then came the realization that the job of being an RT isn't as ideal as you make it out when you're anticipating being one.

Sure there are great moments. I had one just the other day when I spent three hours with a newborn who had a diagrammatic hernia. We intubated, set up on vent, and all sorts of good fun. We don't do this often where I work, although we prepare for it just in case. Working with my co-worker, this was a much needed mental challenge.

Yet, finished with that, it was back to the frivolous, monotonous job of passing out nebs to people who didn't need them. This can be a good job in itself, although in a sense it gets irritating when you work so hard to help someone who actually needed your services, and then have to do this goofy junk.

Of course I'm well aware that no other job is any different. For example, I used to be a journalist, and most of the stuff I wrote about was goofy junk too. I mean, can you imagine the challenge of writing about the upcoming summer fun filled events every single year. How unique can you make the article this year.

Thinking about this reminds me of when I first started out as an RT. Here I was thinking I'd be able to help asthmatics considering I am one and all, and then I realized I'm mostly wasting my time and their money. I remember being pissed when I came to this realization (kind of like this guy. He has it pegged to a tee, and, quite honestly, he's right on. Read his article, it's pretty good).

I remember being so irate about this I applied for a job at another hospital hoping it would be different.

Noting my irritation, the nursing supervisor set down with me.

"So what's bugging you? How come you want to quit!"

"Because I never anticipated 90% of what I would do as an RT was pretty much bull shit," I said. although I probably stated it more diplomatically back then.

She said, "So, are you saying the job is not what you anticipated?"

"Exactly. I thought I'd actually be giving treatments to people who had asthma or COPD or actually needed them. Here I save the life of a baby, and there's a code in ER, and my boss gets mad at me because I didn't give the treatment on the lady not short of breath with pneumonia, or the baby who has RSV and no proven indication for bronchodilator. It gets frustrating."

"You actually think it's any better with any other job. I mean, even doctors have to deal with the B.S."

"You think so?"

"I know so. Not only that, but if you cross the fence, you'll see it's not any better over there either. So you should just stay here, smile, work hard, and bite your cheek."

I said nothing, and she added, "In other words, your good and we want to keep you. Don't leave without knowing you're good at what you do."

Don't leave without knowing you're good at what you do! Man if that didn't hit the nail on the head. I had never thought of it that way. I had never thought I was good. I, after all, am just a humble RT working to feed my family.

I never did leave this place. There are still things I can't stand about this institution and profession, still bosses who defend stupid rules to a tee that have nothing to do with saving lives but more to do with making sure all i's are dotted and t's crossed, and that money keep flowing in, and rules.... bla bla bla.

Now, though, all these years later, I see what she meant. If you go to Washington, or read the paper, you'll get irritated with something. I get frustrated with the government trying to take over our lives, and yet you see those in Washington making stupid decisions every day.

Well, it's no different in any other field. I have friends who have quit and been hired at other hospitals, and they report the same B.S. So, thankfully, I never quit just because of the B.S. politics. That supervisor saved me a world of hurt.

If I would have quit, I never would have met my wife. If I would have quit, I wouldn't have a job at a relatively nice institution. If I would have quit back then, I might not have the great life I have today. This blog would not exist.

Ironically, I found that the best way to fight frustration at your job is to lick the hair off the dog that bit you. I found that doing research and making myself a better RT, and then by taking on projects, however small, to challenge myself.

And then being positive and optimistic and participating in as many administrative duties as the administrators would have me. Now, while I still am honest about what I do, I find that I enjoy the frivolous things even more. I find that getting along with nurses, and smiling, and knowing that the sun will still rise tomorrow regardless of what we do today.

Sometimes, fate has more to do with where we are. Sometimes, fate has a strange way of working. Sometimes, as the old Jack Frost poem goes, it's good to stop and smell the roses, and realize how good you have it where you are.

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