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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The first year of RT School

So, aspiring respiratory therapists, what can you expect from your first year of RT school? Instead of relying on my memory (I started RT School in 1995 in the pre-blogosphere world), I found the perfect person for the job: the Trauma Junkie.

Getting ready to start his second year, he wrote a report on the first year. I thought he summed it up quite well:

At the end of the first year of RT school, I remember several things:

Some of these things, very basic, but very important:

-Never withold oxygen from a patient who needs it

-Bronchodilators are intended to treat bronchospasm/bronchoconstriction

-Normal respiratory rate is 12-20bpm, normal heart rate is 60-100, normal B/P is 95-145/50-80

-Always wash your hands

-Central cyanosis, hemo-/hydro-/pneumo- thorax, and pulmonary emboli are very serious and require immediate intervention

Some of these things, slightly humorous, but slightly irritating:

-Patients who tell you they know how to properly use their inhalers and nebulizers (you know, they have been doing them at home for years), in fact prove to you that they cannot demonstrate the proper way to do them

-Almost everyone who is admitted with a respiratory problem, such as pneumonia, will have bronchodilators scheduled, even if they have no indication for this therapy (they aren't "wheezing" and have no history of asthma or reactive airways)

-Doctors, especially residents, don't always know how or when to properly order a neb treatment, including frequency and dosage ("Albuterol 4mg per neb TID and q1h PRN SOB," anyone?)

-Patients do not know why they take their breathing treatments, they don't help, but they just do it and have never asked why

-Some of the therapists you work with in clinicals will tell you all the wrong ways to do things

I think he pretty much sums it up. I think any current RT with a memory will remember how hard that first year was. The Junkie described it this way:
They say that the first year of RT school is the toughest. You learn basic concepts, formulas, laws, and equations that you will carry with you for your entire career as a therapist. The second year just consists of building on these concepts.

I think he pretty much sums it up correctly. However, I will add one comment: Yes, in the 2nd year you build upon the wisdom you learned in year one of RT School. But hold on to your seat, because by the end of round 2 you will feel as Rockey did at the end of his match with Apollo Creed -- exhausted, barely able to stand on two feet.

There! How's that to look forward to?


Anonymous said...

Well my mother is (was) a nurse... and my sister is a nurse. the same crap that my mother said almost 25 to 30 years ago my sister is now complaining about. my how times havent changed. :0

Aiesha Grant said...

Hi Rick,

I was going through your older posts and found this! As it stands right now, I'm in my 4th week of RT school and I'm certainly feeling the pressure! I'm president of my class and in addition to those responsibilities I'm a student anatomy and physiology student instructor! Between juggling my classes, writing on my blog, teaching A and P and everything else in my life my legs already feel wobbly! But I'm going to keep standing! Refreshing posts like this one make me laugh and realize that if you and other RT's made it through, I can (and I will) too!