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Sunday, September 19, 2010

The perspective of getting an RT job

So you're trying to decide what career to choose, and you go to the school counselor, and he says, "Ninety-nine percent of our students get jobs when they leave school." Is he being honest?

Well, yes, he is being honest. Yet what he isn't telling you is that he's including in those statistics students who graduate to McDonalds or Burger King or Walmart because they don't get jobs in their respective fields.

Right now the economy is doing so poorly that the only place where real estate prices are going up is in Washington D.C., and that's because the only jobs that are available are government jobs.

By the way, government jobs also pay more than private jobs, and offer better benefits, and allow you to retire after 25 years. Yet that might change soon, because that's part of the reason government is failing us.

I was just talking with our nuclear technologist here at Shoreline Medical, and he said Ferris State University graduates 30 nuclear technologists every year. And in this past year's class all 30 are looking for jobs.

Of course you have to add into that that nuclear medicine is a new field, as Ferris's program only started in 1977. So the oldest person might be in his mid 50s, and few are ready to retire yet.

Likewise, most hospitals are tied in with respective schools, and by the time a hospital is ready to hire a new technologist one student has already been working, and it's from this base that new nuclear medicine technologists are hired.

It's a lot easier, and costs less, to hire those who already have experience at your hospital as opposed to training someone new.

Yet, when you talk to your counselor, he may honestly say 99% of our students get jobs upon graduation, and he can honestly say this, yet he may also not be telling you the complete truth.

In fact, the program at Ferris just expanded. This wouldn't happen if the counselor had said, "Well, this is a great field, yet the prospect of you getting a job in four years when you're done isn't very good. Only 5% get jobs upon graduation, the rest have to wait 5-10 years."

Here at the RT Cave we are honest with you. If you want to get a job as an RT, that's great. I wouldn't change careers for the world. I love being an RT. Still, when I have a student following me who is trying to decide between being an RT and an RN, I have to say: become an RN.

Why would I say this? Well, it's not easy getting an RT job. The turnover rate is very low. Likewise, if you get burned out at some point in your career and want to change jobs, the opportunities just aren't there.

If you're a medical/surgical nurse and you want a change, you can change to another department right within the hospital, or you can work at a nursing home, or do home care, or personal care, or etcetera. The opportunities are endless.

If you're an RT and you want to change jobs, chances are you'll have to relocate, unless you live in a city with many hospitals.

When I went to Ferris in 1988 I chose journalism and later advertising because I was told "99% of our students get jobs." What I wasn't told was that that job would be working as a desk clerk at a hotel.

So my advice to anyone seeking an education, make sure you scout out the career paths of your options. Know the hospitals in your region and what the turnover rate is. A good way of doing this is by shadowing an RT or an RN or whatever professional you're interested in becoming.

Most medical professions, especially Respiratory Therapy, are great professions and great careers. Yet just make sure you make the right decision for yourself, and choose a profession you can actually get a job in.

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