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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The 6 Types of Respiratory Therapists

The following post was originally written for RT Cave, and loved so much by the Rt Community that it was republished (and edited) for

The respiratory therapy cave (a.k.a. department) presents with a unique milieu, and this is mainly because we Respiratory Therapists (RT) have a unique view from the head of the bed.  What we see is often based on what type of RT we are.  In this regard, there are six types of RTs:

1.  Stepping stones: These are your RTs who use this professoin as a stepping stone to a more illustrious medical profession. In my humble opinion, this is the way to go. There is no better way to learn how to assess and treat, and no better way to learn about people than from the head of the bed.  Some of the best administrators, physicians assistants and physicians got their start in an RT Cave.  They become the most respected. 

2.  Quitters: These are your RTs who simply hate working.  They wade through RT School under the ruse this job will be easy and they can just go for a cake walk.  Yet once they learn common sense, prioritizing and critical thinking come with sore feet and judgemental co-workers (see complainers below), they either quit or are forced out the door.  They are amiable at first impression, but once their true colors shine through they lose any friends they once had. 

3.  Contents: These are your happy-go-lucky RTs who tend to have a phlegmatic disposition even in the most critical situations.  They never complain; just lend an ear and listen -- with a smile.  Everyone loves them, and they are your favorite RTs to give report to.  They are happy with what they know and rarely seek out new wisdom.  They usually prefer not to work with critical patients, and when they do they rarely question doctors.  Some call them button pushers or neb jockeys.  They are your people RTs.  Usually you'll see them happily knocking off treatments on the floors, perhaps with a bubbly trot. They are your amiable RTs loved by all. 

4.  Complainers: Here you'll find about 60 percent of your RTs.  They tent to be very intelligent people, almost exorbitantly smart for the profession.  They find faults at things contents would simply brush aside.  They love the profession of RT, but hate the reality of it.  They're usually up to date on all the new technologies, and are very quick to question doctors or offer suggestions. These are your equipment experts.  However, while they are not happy, they do nothing to better their career field, and rarely support the idea of change. After working for a while, they become frustrated, apathetic, and then give up.  They're great workers, yet don't tolerate or are impatient to imperfection.  They are your judgers, your critics and won't shy away from telling you what they think (so be ready!). They aren't for keeping the peace, just satisfying themselves. Since they're good workers they are often tolerated by the rest of the gang.

5.  Philosophers:  These are your thinkers.  Surely they aren't as quick whited as your complainers, but they love to learn and they love to share their wisdom.  They devotedly attend meetings, seminars and are often rapt in a good book.  They aren't much for small talk, but if you want to talk business, politics and religion they are all ears.  These are your teachers, your writers, your idea creators. These are the folks you can thank for protocols and cheat sheets that make our jobs better. They judge not, and therefore people love them.  They work with leaders to solve problems, and often let others take credit for their ideas. They are the arbiters when fellow RTs have a dispute.  They are your piecekeepers.  Their optimism works to keep morale high.  Some call them brown nosers, perhaps out of jealousy. Yet they aren't brown nosers at all, just good folks who've learned how to get along with all personalities.  Leaders revere them and wish every RT was a philosopher. 

6.  The leaders: They are the few, the proud, the takers of the credit and the lead.  They make sure everything is stocked, that all i's and t's are crossed, and  listen to rants.  They usually side with the bosses, though (unless they are bosses, then they side with themselves). They judge and tell you what you did wrong, and are therefore resented.  They listen to philosopher's desire for change, but surreptitiously side with complainers desire for the status quo. They agree to some changes, yet prefer not to rock the boat.  While they may think alike, complainers detest them as much as philosophers tolerate them.  Contents have no opinion, and quitters are intimidated. 

Which type of RT are you?


tiedyesmiley said...

I just classified my associates, amazing how well you put that.

Lillian @ Respiratory Therapist Programs said...

I think most are a bit of each. You could substitute any job, any career, any position in there for RT's though as these types are in everything from the medical field to corp America. Good read....well put.