slideshow widget

Thursday, October 28, 2010

How to become the Best Respiratory Therapist

So you are seeking a job as an RT, or you want to improve your RT skills. The May, 2010, issue of AARC Times, "3 things you can do now to tune up your career skills" is a great article with some great tips for those aspiring to improve their career skills.

Many of these things I've discussed before on this blog, although it's always worth repeating. Many of you have written to me about your concerns about lack of respect for RTs. Although I've noted before that respect is not determined by the profession, but by you, because you are representing the profession (More detail about this here).

All it takes is for one person in your department to be a complainer, or lazy, or to portray an unprofessional manner, and respect for your department, and even you, takes a hit.

So, that in mind, here are some highlights of the tips from the AARC times:

1. Do not have the nurse convey concerns to doctors. Address doctors directly and make sure you are prepared with all the information you will need to speak knowledgeably about the situation.

2. Review patient records before treating them. This is one of the most important things you can do, especially if you want to move beyond the role of simply task doer or button pusher.

3. Attend rounds. This will give you a chance to communicate with the health care team. If you don't have rounds where you work, hang out around the doctors you will communicate with, and share your concerns, and ask questions.

4. Assess the patient. Do a really good assessment of the patient. This is very important to advancing above the task just being a treatment giver. Be part of the team, and relay any concerns you might have. This way if a doctor asks you a question, you'll have an intelligent answer.

5. Know lab values: I actually added this here myself. It's important that you know more than just respiratory stuff. You should be able to see the big picture regarding the patient. What lab values represent kidney failure? What lab values represent or can be indicative of heart failure? What are the signs of sepsis? What are the signs of DIC? What are the signs my patient is at high risk for ARDS? What are the signs of an acute episode CHF? What are the early signs of an asthma attack? What are the signs that you should call the doctor? What are critical values? All of these are things I've covered on this blog at one point or another (except ARDS, and that's coming soon). Don't just be a button pusher, know the big picture. For a list of all the lab values RTs need to know, click here.

6. Work with others. Be a part of the team. Share your concerns. Again, learn the big picture and coordinate your wisdom. This is the best way of becoming more than just an RT. Share your wisdom with the patient, the nurses and the doctors.

7. Stay calm. Another one I added here. Nothing shows respect to others, and shows that you know what you are doing more, than calmness during a stressful moment. If you are prepared, if you know your stuff, you will have no problem being calm. This shows you have confidence and confidence, and you are capable of doing your job. This shows the rest of the team you know what you're doing and they don't have to worry about the tasks you are performing. You will take care of your end.

8. Stay educated. I added this one too. Know your stuff. Practice working with neonatal ventilators often, especially if you don't have bad babies at your hospital much. If you don't do this, your skills may get rusty, and you will have a greater chance of looking rusty during a stressful moment.

9. Have cheat sheets. This is another one I added. I provide many cheat sheets on this blog (click here). You probably have some from when you were a student. While you are required to remember everything in school, it's not possible in real life. Have a cheat sheet, look at it when you are called stat, and have yourself prepared. This will keep you looking cool in a stressful moment. It will also give you the ability to have equipment ready, such as appropriate ETT size, tidal volume, and impress the physician and nurses in the process with your wisdom.

10. Be productive. Professionals get the job done effectively and efficiently. This doesn't mean you knock out as many treatments as you can during your shift. It does mean you don't waste time on the job. Prioritize. Get your work done. Don't leave things for others to clean up. Don't be late, and if you are going to be late call for help. Volunteer to help others. Participate in departmental events. Volunteer to write policies and procedures. Come up with new innovations to help your department. Write cheat sheets. Write a blog. Write a departmental website.

11. Be on time. If you tell a patient or co-worker you will be somewhere or do something, don't be late. If you are going to be late, make sure you notify the person. Yes, you are going to be called stat sometimes. If so, send a co-worker to notify the patient, otherwise he will be waiting for you. Show up on time for work too. Don't call in sick unless you absolutely have to. Volunteer to pick up hours. Be the RT who is always willing to go out of the way to help out a co-worker or, and especially, the RT boss or whomever is doing the scheduling.

12. Don't complain. Another I added. I wrote about this extensively awhile back on this blog. There is nothing worse than an RT complainer. It's easy to become one in this field, but it's important that you do not. Avoid the complainers. Once you complain, you are telling more about yourself than the person you're complaining about.

13. Don't gossip! Stay away from those folks however hard it may be. You don't want to be known as "that" person.

14. Look for useful innovations: Everything in the RT Cave has the potential to be better than it is now. Nurture new ideas and turn them into a game plan to help your organization streamline operations. Keep your eyes pealed for new ideas. Email other RT Caves to see what they are doing, what protocols they have, and how the incorporated them. This is a good thing to do instead of complaining or gossipping. It shows others -- especially the boss -- that you care.

15. Read literature. Read appropriate material on the Internet and magazines. Read medical blogs. Stay up to date on new equipment, ventilators, ABG machines, diseases such as asthma, CHF, COPD, CF and such. There are always new ideas and research, so it's important you stay up to date. When you share your wisdom, you will show the boss and coworkers you are professional and care. When you find some useful wisdom, print it off and leave it for others to read on the bulletin board or other appropriate place.

16. Dress for success. How you look reflects the image of your department. This goes along with not complaining. What you do, how you look, can show a negative or positive image.

17. Be easy to approach. This is mine. Be appreciative. Tell nurses and doctors they did a good job. Smile. Be honest. Be happy. Be appropriately humorous. Be positive.

18. Don't defend yourself. This is mine. Even if you are right, don't defend yourself. If there's one thing that can make an RT look like an idiot is when he goes on the defense. If you were wrong, apologize and take appropriate corrective action. If you were not wrong, take the hit and move on.

19. Don't lie. There's actually no better way of showing professionalism than being one of those coworkers and employers everyone can trust.

20. Be a champion of change. Actually, RTs are adaptable by nature. We have evolved coolly through the ages and, hopefully, and with your help and advice, will continue to evolve this profession into an even better one. Change can be good. Embrace it.

21. Expand your comfort zone. Don't be afraid to change the way you do something just because this is the way you've always done it. Your way may not always be the best way.

22. Know your role. Know where RTs fit into the big picture. So long as you keep up on your wisdom, and know more than just RT stuff (explained above) you should do just fine here.

23. Commit to the process. Don't give half hearted effort. If you commit to doing something for the department, give 110%. If you give less, you are not saying a lot about yourself, and you're definitely not helping the department. Don't let the complainers set you back. Go above and beyond and finish what you commit to. Better yet, commit yourself!!

24. Have a vision: Identify an objective and commit to achieving it.

25. Discipline yourself: A vision is one thing; carrying out all the steps to reach it is another. Discipline means sticking with the plan until it is done.

26. Ignore the negative voice in your head. A very important one here. Don't get sidetracked by thoughts that you can't achieve your goal or that what you would like to do is not something an RT can do.

27. Find a way to succeed: Know your limits. If you have an idea, and you have a protocol, and you are not a good salesperson, find a person to complete the task for you. Delegate. Get the job done. Make your department better.

Yes, I expounded on what the authors noted in the article. Pretty much, I believe if you follow the advice in this post you should be well on your way to becoming a professional in the RT cave, becoming a role model, and creating a positive image not only of yourself, but of your RT Cave and the profession as a whole.

Actually, if you follow following you'll be just fine:


RTtoBe said...

Wow,, thanks for the tips,,, can i share this on my website?

Rick Frea said...

You may. Can you provide a link to your website?

Merry Mcgill said...

thank you very much, this was indeed very helpful. I would be grateful if you can also help me with this:
I have a Ph.D. in philosophy, do I have any chance to become a psychotherapist (let's say LP or LMFT)? And if yes, do I need to do a masters, or just practical training?