'Overqualified' May Mean Highly Prepared
One of the hazards of being in respiratory therapy for so long, some 30-plus years now, is that I am often told that I am "overqualified" for the position I was hired for or am interviewing for. Many of you have encountered this same thing; a position you like is open but the hospital does not want to hire you because you have too much experience, too much education, or too much of something. Respiratory therapists are some of the smartest people I know. We usually do not just cruise along learning the bare minimum and hope to stay employed. Many of us go past basic CPR, for instance, and learn skills like ACLS, PALS, NALS, or NRP. We may not stop at our obligatory associates degree, but pursue our bachelors or masters, and perhaps our doctorates.
If I were to be paid based on education, no one could afford me. I have a masters, and am working on a second one. Anyone who knows me knows that if I were not interested in a job, regardless of the pay, I would not waste my time or my potential employer's time by interviewing for it. Yet some employers look at advanced education as a liability rather than an asset. I top out of most pay scales, even though I am only a CRT, because of the time I have devoted to this profession. Again, some facilities may look at that negatively.
I am not sure what employers expect. Maybe they think that if you have been in the profession for a while, you should get out of it. Maybe they feel that being in a profession this long makes it appear that you are not suited to do anything else. Often, we find ourselves overqualified for respiratory jobs, yet underqualified for managerial positions in the hierarchy of the hospital. We eventually come to a point where there is no upward mobility, only lateral movement between departments, which does not meet our needs for growth.
In my opinion, a respiratory therapist is an asset to any setting. Few have the keen insight we have into the diseases of the lung, as well as associated conditions that often accompany them. Few patients have only lung problems; many have diabetes or heart conditions, too. We know that stuff because we have to; it helps us provide better care and make better suggestions about how to deliver appropriate care to our patients.
Some therapists have been around because they truly love the job. Not everyone has the idea that making it to hospital CEO, a difficult task when starting as a therapist, is the culmination of a good career. There are worker bees and the queen bee. Thousands serve as workers so the queen can make life better for the hive. We are the worker bees. I went on with my education not for promotion, but because I have a thirst for learning. This concept is often difficult for human resources people to grasp, and some respiratory managers may have the same problem. Do what you do. Do it the best you can. If that means taking an extra class or bumping up that degree, then do it. We cannot be a respected profession if there is little to respect.
That's just my opinion, Jim Thacker, MHA, CRT, AE-C, Lexington, Mo.