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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A list of what I like about being an RT

Since I started this blog in October I have received occasional emails from students who are interested in going into the career of respiratory therapy. They tell me that some of the things I write about peek their excitement, and some of the things I write about make them wonder why I stay in this field.

I write about how doctors often order treatments for stupid reasons, and I created my list of olins at the bottom of this blog based on these stupid doctor orders.

Consider the post I wrote on Sunday, Dr. Krane knows all, hates us RTs, where I wrote about a particular doctor who doesn't have much respect for RTs.

AllClear, an RT student wrote this response: "I find postings like this everywhere on the net - the whole disrespect thing, cave thing, underdog'ish atmoshphere, yet many people -myself included- are drawn to this field. What keeps you in this field and going strong when up against the elitist attitudes you encounter?"

To be honest, there are a lot of good things about being a respiratory therapist, and I probably should spend more time writing about these -- but complaining and satire makes for much better reading.

Here is an extemporaneous list of what I love about being an RT:
  1. I love educating people about what they can do to prevent themselves from ever coming back to the hospital again.
  2. I love it when someone comes in with an asthma attack and the breathing treatment I gave makes them feel much better.

  3. I love it when I have a patient who is SOB and I am able to empathize with that person because I have asthma myself.

  4. I love it when a doctor asks me for a recommendation, and I have the answer.

  5. I love it when I can use my knowledge and experience to help a person who "just doesn't look right," especially when a doctor is not immediately available and something needs to be done "right now."

  6. I love meeting people and getting to know them. I love it when I learn about their entire lives in a short period of time.

  7. I love working with critical patients, and the feeling that I am the only person in the hospital (I usually work alone) who can do what I do. No one else knows how to run a BiPAP, including our doctors. No one else knows how to set up a vent.

  8. I love it when I tell the doctor what vent settings are best for the patient based on the cheat sheets that I made for myself, and the doctor says "that looks good to me."

  9. I love it when I have all my work done I can socialize with my co-workers, read, or play around on the Internet.

  10. I love learning about asthma and COPD and sharing my knowledge here.

  11. I love writing about my experiences as an RT (good and bad)

  12. I met my wife while working as an RT. She was an RN student following RT for the day.

  13. I love talking to family members about their loved one who is on life support, and explaining to them in simple terms what's going on, and what to expect from here.

  14. I love explaining to my vent patients what to expect from here.

  15. I love it when an extubated patient comes up to me and says, "Rick, I was really scared until you came into the room and explained what I should expect to happen, especially when the doctor said he was going to wean me today."

  16. I love it when people walk up to me in stores and say things like, "You're my little angel," or, "You saved my life."

  17. I love it when I am called even before the doctor because of the magic medicine I carry in my pocket.

  18. I love it when I am called "STAT" to ER because of the "ACLS" service we are proficient in.

  19. I love being an expert in a difficult and invasive procedure like suctioning and ABGs.

  20. I love it when I know the results of an ABG even before I draw it based on my experience.

  21. I love it when I can tell just by my initial assessment what's wrong with the patient.
  22. I love it that I know more than doctors about when a breathing treatment is indicated because I'm the one who assesses the patient before and after EVERY treatment.

  23. I love it when doctors and hospital administrators decide to approve RT driven protocols because they have faith in our knowledge and experience.

  24. I love it when a nurse calls me because she can't figure out why a person is SOB.

  25. I love the Rapid Response Team that allows me to use my whit to make a quick decision to save a person, or to help a nurse.

  26. I love telling a nurse thanks for helping me out.

  27. I love it when we all work together as a team to help a person.

  28. I love learning more about respiratory therapy.

  29. I love having students, and sharing with them the wisdoms I've obtained.

  30. I love my fellow RTs

  31. I love the nurses I work with

  32. I love the doctors who respect my ability to do my job, and allow me to do it.

  33. I love when it's slow and I get to sit in the waiting room and watch the Tigers or Lions.

  34. I love sharing my asthma knowledge with an asthmatic.

  35. I love talking with a COPD or asthma patient about quitting smoking.

  36. I love when I get called into work to help out a co-worker who's being slammed.

  37. I love being organized and prioritizing.

  38. I love the paycheck.

  39. I love the benefits

  40. I love all the PTO I get.

  41. I love the flexible schedule.

  42. I love 12 hour shifts.

  43. I love working 3 days a week

  44. I love having 6 days off in a row every other week.

  45. I love it when I actually look forward to going to work because I know it's been slow there. Sometimes this is like a mini vacation.

  46. I love it when it's hot and muggy outside and I get to go to work in the cool air conditioning.

  47. I love it that people can't smoke at work
  48. I love it that people rely on me.

The anonymous RT over at Respiratory Therapy 101 wrote Q&A post from his perspective of the job of respiratory therapy (Click here to view this Q&A) .

I agree with what he says, for the most part, except that he works for a larger hospital with much more critical patients than we get here in the small town of Shoreline.

I work here because this is my hometown, and this is what my town offers. Some RTs love the milieu of the small town setting like I do, and some love the rush of a large hospital critical care or emergency room -- not that we don't get rushes here.

Personally, I love the challenge offered me here. Yet, if I lived in a city like Grand Rapids or Ann Arbor, I would probably try my luck working with pediatrics or neonates. I think that might actually be more rewarding than working with adults.

One thing you have to understand about the medical field is that it is a flawed profession. While it's rewarding, you are still going to have to deal with the politics, pushy bosses who think in terms of money, the occasional arrogant co-worker, and doctors who order therapies for reasons that are non-scientific.

However, at the same time, these same administrators, arrogant co-workers and doctors that I make fun of on this blog do many great things that I certainly wouldn't be willing to do. Like the scheduler who has no choice but call people at 2 a.m. and risk every person in the department hating her. Or the doctor who makes fluent decisions to save a life, and has to carry a beeper 24-7.

I do not write enough on this blog of all the good things about being an RT; about working in a hospital. I will continue to write about the challenges, the rewards, the interesting cases and interesting people. I will continue to write about the diseases and RT educational materials.

But, so long as this remains a flawed profession, I will have no choice but to report on that part of the field too.

This profession has continued to grow since the days of the infamous Iron Lung, and the only way we will continue to grow as a profession is if someone is available to make doctors and administrators aware of their flaws, so we can work together to find a solution.

Plus it's fun to write satire about stupid doctor orders and inexplicable administrative decisions.

So, while it is flawed as probably all medical jobs are, or any other job for that matter, it is a challenging and rewarding profession at the same time, worth my time and effort. And if I had a chance to go back and do it all over, I'd probably go the same route.

It's also a good job for you too, if you can handle the challenge.


cwjsmama said...

Nice job.

I extubated an accidental od yesterday. The first thing she said was, "I love you for taking that tube out." We then talked for quite a while about taking too many meds, even if they are your perscription.

I love being an RT too!

Anonymous said...

Awesome list! I think a lot of us RTs (myself definitely included) spend a lot of time complaining and not enough time focusing on what we like about our jobs. This is a comprehensive list of The Good Stuff. Thanks.

Rhiannon said...

Thank you for posting this list. I'm trying to make up my mind between RT and RN. I'm applying for both, but my passion is so far kind of equal. I read these blogs to get a better idea of which field will suit me.