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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The future of the RT profession is in our hands

One of the fun things about being a respiratory therapist is that this "profession" is still in the beginning stages. All of us RTs who are in the profession now have an opportunity to shape the profession, and determine the role of RTs in the future.

That is one of the main reasons I love this job. I'm not sure I would like to ever get into administrative work, mainly because the risk of getting canned increase as you get closer to the top (that's a discussion perhaps for tomorrow). But I would like to get more involved in hospital politics. Something I'd have to go to days to do.

During those long, drawn out nights when we had a low census the past couple years I have worked together with one of my co-workers and written several protocols. If nothing else, they are sitting in my locker available if a doctor some day realizes the benefits of RT driven protocols (patient driven protocols).

I have also created several "cheat sheets" so we RTs don't have to "memorize" detail. I think I've spent over 200 hours working on this. Just to give an example, I created a table whereas you can pick the VT range ideal for your patient, instead of just guessing (as many doctors do.)

My VT table has become so popular where I work that our doctors no longer tell me the VT, they ask me what would be best. I have never had a doctor overrule me. And I think this has something to do with the increased respect for us RTs. Respect is something that is "earned."

There are many things at this hospital I would like to see changed. I would like to see more often doctors relying on the wisdom of us RTs (and RNs) who are at the bedside and do the same thing day on out, instead of making up orders extemporaneously. Kind of like the VT table I discussed above.

We have to bide our time, however I think things are getting better for this profession. Nurses who respect us call us every time a patient is in trouble. They ask us for our advice. "What are the I's and O's?... Ah, the patient is wet perhaps?...."

Doctors even sometimes ask to speak with an RT for our advice. "Do you think this patient is bad enough I need to come in?... Do you have any ideas what we can do for this patient?... "

"Definitely!... and YES, I certainly do. I think this patient would benefit from....?"

It's this kind of creative thinking that draws me deeper into this profession. It's the challenge. And, ironically, it's the politics.

You have many RTs who are simply button pushers. They receive their orders and they do them without asking questions. Then you have RTs like me and you who are the question askers and thinkers. We need both. We need all types of personalities to make a profession respectable.

Yet we must not become discouraged and daunted. We must not quit, however tempting that can be at times. The future of this RT profession is in our hands.


Marcus said...

Ok, now how do I get a copy of your cheat sheets if that is possible. :)

Unknown said...

I second that copy of the cheat sheets. I would really like to see them. Like I've said before keep pushing those therapist driven protocols, we have had them for a year now and it's been great. Our dept even received a award for them.