The following was submitted by Will Lessons, RRT, Retired:
I will be honest with you. When I first became an RT I was scared shitless. Here I'm fresh out of school and I'm expected to work nights by myself. There's one way to learn -- the best way -- and that's to just be thrown into a stressful situation. It's what makes you or breaks you.
So I had no choice but to get better. I had no choice but to get my feet wet. I was essentially thrown to the wolves. So I had no choice but to get better, more comfortable, and I did as time went by.
I had to do this if I wanted to keep my job, and I did. I needed money. I needed to support my family.
Then one day I realized there's nothing to worry about. I have one job and one job only, and that's to manage the airway.
That was when I became comfortable with my job.
Thankfully I was thrown to the wolves on night shift, other wise it may have taken years to come to this realization. Yet I would have come to it, eventually. After I finished leaning on my coworkers.
Most new RTs start out on nights. It's not such a bad thing. It forces you to jump right into situations you otherwise don't feel comfortable being in. But if you were a good RT student, you should know what you're doing. It's not that hard. It's what you were trained to do.
This type of experience, this reassurance, pushed me to that next level of expertise. And I highly recommend to all you new RTs to just jump into the water as soon as you can and get your feet wet.
We were all there once and we all know what it was like, so no one is going to let you sink. Plus you can have the reassurance that every single ER and CCU nurse and doctor knows what you do. They have all seen it a million times. So if you're in a crunch, they can help you.
Now on the medical/surgical floors that's another story. Those nurses rarely see codes and aren't as competent as your ER or CCU nurses. And thankfully most codes take place in the ER or CCU. Chances are by the time you have a code in some weird place -- like x-ray or lab -- you'll have plenty of experience under your belt. If not, it's all a learning experience.
So don't sweat it. Later on in my career when I was the RT educator at my hospital, I told all new RTs, "You have one job to do and one job only, and that's to manage the airway."
After you do it a few times, it's like working in a factory; doing the same thing every time. It's like a cakewalk. It's like going for a dip in the cool, refreshing Lake Michigan on a hot summer day -- easy and refreshing.