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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Many students have doubts about the RT program

Did you have any doubts of being a RT while you were in college for it?

Yes I did have reservations about being an RT. In fact, other than doing breathing treatments, I didn't even know what the job entailed. While I did go to some career days and talk to RTs, I didn't have access to much information. Thankfully at least you have access to the Internet, so you should at least have an idea of what you will be doing as an RT, and what you will be getting into (at least to a certain extent).

(While the RT School I endorse is not on this website, you can still click here for an excellent article regarding the RT program.)

In fact, when I entered the RT program, I was shocked when I learned I would have to draw blood and manage ventilators, and suction, and run codes. It turns out those things I feared the most are the things I enjoy the most. It's those things that provide the greatest stress, but they also provide the greatest deal of satisfaction.

I guess any career you choose is a crap shoot. It seems kind of awkward that you have to choose what you are going to do the rest of your life before you even do it. I always thought it would be neat if you could be an apprentice for a year or so in whatever field you want to go in before you spend $30,000 or more to go to school for it. However, if you want, you can probably call your local RT department and see if you can follow an RT around for a day or two to see if you like it. I'm sure they,d let you. I would.

I'm sure you will enjoy being an RT But, even if you don't, you will learn so much about life, and people, and the medical field that this is the ideal job to gamble on. I say this because 1) you will have a recession proof job 2) you can be an RT anywhere in the world 3) you can use it as a stepping stone to just about any other profession 4) It provides a decent income and benefits 5) You can start working as one even as you are going to school.

I'll be honest about one other thing. When I was a student I was afraid about this field. I was afraid I'd do something stupid and wouldn't fit in. I was afraid of failure. But, after I got into the RT program and saw some of the other people who were in RT school, or who were already nurses and RTs, I said to myself: "If THAT person can do this job, so can I."

In fact, the whole time I was in RT school I kept repeating that to myself over and over. It was kind of my war cry, my "Remember the Alamo." And to make sure I didn't fail, I studied my butt off so when I got into a situation I'd know exactly what to do. And while I did fumble the first time I did everything, that RT wisdom and my war cry got me through it.

Here's another thing you should know. The RT program is hard. I know people who went through the RN program and the RT program, and all of them have told me the RT program was really hard, harder than the RN program. But it's kind of like going through boot camp in the military: when you get done with it you will be great RT. You will be an absolute expert, fully confident and competent in your wisdom and skills -- and that is a good thing.

It's funny, though, because I think because RTs come out of RT school so prepared some of us feel a little disappointed once we do the job for a while -- at least in some hospitals. I say this because some hospitals don't let us use all of our skills and wisdom, as you can see by some of my writings.

And I think all people in the medical field get frustrated with the politics of the medical field. As, for instance, one person sitting in an office in Washington D.C. decided that every person who is admitted with pneumonia needs to have breathing treatments every 6 hours to meet criteria for reimbursement.

Well, an person with half a brain knows breathing treatments don't even get down into the alveoli where the pneumonia is. Still, that's no reason not to become an RT. The hope is that some day soon someone will realize the flaw of this method.

Yet you also have to know this is still a maturing profession, and doctors are quickly realizing (or so we would hope) how great of an asset we RTs are to the team and giving us more and more responsibilities via RT Driven Protocols.

Now, there are a few other things that hold some RT departments back, such as criteria for reimbursement set by Insurance companies and the government (Medicaid). But that doesn't have anything to do with respect. We'll discuss that later.

So, yes, I did have reservations. But I think that's actually a good thing normal -- and wise.

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