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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Humility and Respect make good RTs

I recently had a fellow RT email me with the following comment: 
"I'm positive you have heard this a thousand times. Great site!  Though I have been an Rt for a few short years, I feel like I'm still putting things together. I'm embarrassed at some of the things I don't remember and sometimes afraid to speak cause it may show my ignorance. I'm quietly confident, never a know it all."
I think this pretty much describes most respiratory therapists, and it's a good thing.  I often have moments when I'm afraid to speak up and I've been an RT for over 15 years.  It used to bother me, yet after confiding with a wise old RT with this once, she said, "Rick, this is normal.  It's a sign of humility. It's a sign that you are not an arrogant know it all."

It kind of reminds me of when I started out as an RT.  In RT school I studied about as hard as anyone could study because I wanted to learn as much as I could.  This paid off because in those testy situations I always had, as the author of the above comment notes, a plethora of wisdom to fall back on.

Yet when I first started as an RT I'd often find myself doubting even my own self, and I would take a moment to stop and check my cheat sheets, or books.  Sometimes I'd even take the time to call the wise old coworker I referred to above.  She was always available even in the wee hours of the morning.I found myself doing this often.

Several years later I talked to a doctor who had to wait a long time for me to set up a ventilator on a certain patient because I had to make one of my infamous phone calls.  I said, "You probably thought I was stupid."

He said, "Exactly the opposite.  It was you doing that that made me respect you almost right away.  There are a lot of RTs who think they know everything and yet they know so little.  It's those RTs who act before thinking who end up hurting patients.  Your taking the time to call to get help is a sign of humility."

So this doctor pretty much summed up the words of the wise old RT.

As time went by I found myself doing the opposite as well: not speaking because I didn't want the doctor to be aware of HIS ignorance.  Sometimes I hold off all my wisdom to a patient as well because I don't want the patient to think the doctor is ignorant, even when I know the doctor is.  

I'm told is a sign of respect. 

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