slideshow widget

Friday, October 7, 2011

The typical day in the life of an RT

Your humble question:  Could you walk me through your typical day/week on the job? What setting do you work in? What kind of patients do you help?

My humble answer:   I arrive at work, punch in, grab a cup of coffee, and the person I'm relieving hands me the beeper.  My first order of business is to pray the beeper doesn't go off for at least an hour, yet I'm often disappointed.  So the beeper -- what we call the hot potato -- often dictates the course of our day.  Some pages can be prioritized, yet others are STAT.  Prioritizing is perhaps the greatest challenge of this job.

RTs are responsible for anything to do with the airway.  Most of what we do is scheduled  (see below), yet we are often called whenever the nurse is worried about a patient, breathing equipment, oxygen, suction, and for new patients -- particularly new patients admitted to ER.  One RT is usually responsible for the ER and is given fewer scheduled procedures.  He must respond to ER pages in a timely manner.

>I work in a small town hospital.  The majority of my patients are:

COPD We treat them with oxygen and bronchodilators (like Albuterol).  Since they retain secretions they're at high risk for pneumonia.  End Stage often causes heart failure (CHF), so treating them can often be a balancing act.  They're usually scheduled for every 4-6 hours depending on how short of breath they are.  In the ER they often demand close watch, continuous Albuterol, and sometimes more invasive intervention (such as BiPAP or intubation).

Pneumonia:  The most common patient.  It's also the most reimbursable, so I think sometimes it's the admitting diagnosis of default.  We treat with oxygen and breathing treatments.  Treatments usually don't help these patients, but to make sure the patient meets criteria for reimbursement a treatment is ordered anyway.  Treatments are usually every 4-6 hours

CHF:  Treat them with BiPAP if severe enough, and oxygen therapy.  CHF often produces a wheeze that sounds like asthma and is therefore called cardiac asthma.  It's often confused with asthma and Albuterol is often ordered every 4-6 hours. 

Post operative:  Our work here is preventative.  We encourage deep breaths and coughing to prevent pneumonia and atelectasis.  If needed we do chest physiotherapy. 

Other patients we treat from time to time are asthma, cystic fibrosis, trauma, etc.  How busy we are is dependent on the above, ER, and anything that might come up.We also manage ventilators, BiPAP, are members of the code team.

  We could have a really easy day, or all hell could break loose.  We could do a lot of walking in a day.  The nice thing about being an RT is we're not cooped up in one area. 


No comments: