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Friday, July 13, 2012

Why are Respiratory Therapists Frustrated?

Your RT Question:  Why is it that so many respiratory therapist are upset about their jobs?

My humble answer:  I think most people are upset about their jobs because the image portrayed of this profession by the AARC isn't necessarily how the job is.  While we went to school for two years, continue to study, and have learned much from our experiences, many times our opinions don't matter.  Likewise, many RT bosses don't want to make waves and want to maintain the status quo rather than make life better for the staff.  While RTs are trained to know who needs what therapies and when, they usually end up just being neb jockeys and button pushers.  They are frustrated by this.  They want to be more than just jockeys and pushers.  They want to be able to use the wisdom they studied hard to obtain.  It's a similar frustration a doctor might feel if he were called Mister instead of doctor.  They worked to earn their title just as we RTs worked hard to earn the ability to use our skills and knowledge base to the benefit of patients, doctors and the profession as a whole.  Plus when you go to school thinking one thing, only to end up being something else, it's frustrating.  Plus many doctors have no clue what a bronchodilator is and they keep ordering them for every patient who wheezes or huffs and puffs or has a low sat.  Still, while this is all true, you can make of this job anything you want.  I actually do pretty well where I work because I'm not afraid to go out of my way to make recommendations to the doctors and nurses, even if that comes with making waves and irritating some.  Yet those who benefit are the patients we serve.  What you must remember is this is a job.  No job comes without politics.  No job is ideal. 

Still, I can understand the frustration of many RTs.  Surely some say if you hate your job you should just go get another job, yet that's not always easy, especially when you have a family to raise.  Think of it this way:
  • Contractors are hired knowing they will have to work hard
  • Road construction workers know they will have to work in the elements
  • Doctors know they will have to work with irritating patients
  • Teachers know they will have to deal with snotty kids
  • Baby sitters know they will have to deal with intractile kids
  • School bus drivers know they will have to stay awake while driving
Yet, we RTs are told the following that is not always true:
  • We will assess and recommend therapies
  • Examine patients and decide what therapies are best for that patient
  • Consult with physician to recommend a change in therapy based on your evaluation of that patient
This is a young profession.  Yet unless those three sentences in red above are adressed, many RTs will continue to be frustrated.  Sorry, yet that's just how it is when you're a respiratory therapist.

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1 comment:

Daniel Crow said...

The Respiratory Therapists may not be entirely happy with the portrayal of their job but there are many out there who, upon having to meet an RT, are damn glad of their training, skills and knowledge on breathing, the lungs, and the respiratory system at large – as well as the knock-on effects of damaging it. So, if you would like to avoid meeting an RT to review your lung health or breathing problem, be sure to protect yourself when working in a situation that you could inhale something – wear 3m Face Masks and stave off your visit to the RT.