It's Time to High-Five an RT
I love football, but what a bunch of characters the players can be. Imagine if you, in your job, had to do a little celebration dance every time you did your job. If a guy makes a tackle, they often have to dance or do something dumb on television. Imagine a respiratory therapist making a ventilator change and then breaking in to a dance. Imagine giving co-workers a chest bump after a successful code. I always wonder what possesses grown men to act like total sissies with the whole world watching.
Fortunately, respiratory therapists are not like that. We just do our work and go about our business. A very few of us might be able to play professional football, but I dare say not a single professional football player could do what we do. First, I do not know of any therapist whose salary even approaches the league minimum of well over $100,000. Second, respiratory therapists never show up on highlight reels. Even when patients speak highly of a hospital, it is rare that a respiratory therapist will be spoken of. Finally, if we celebrated like football players did, we would have no time for work. We do not get to look up at the super-sized scoreboard to see our play, nor do we have the ability to have our work under "further review" to make sure the right call was made. Instead, we trudge along, doing our work, and generally do not get recognized for it. Sure, we get a week in the fall to celebrate, but as we saw in a poll earlier this year, few places actually take that time to celebrate us or even thank us.
Maybe we need to be more like football players. Maybe we should celebrate everything we do. Maybe we should demand higher wages like the National Football Players Association have secured for players. I wonder what the effect on patient care would be if we wore our names on the backs of our scrubs, and paused between each treatment to show off to the crowd in the room and entice them to clap and yell for us. Imagine a workplace where managers actually took time to teach you something; not just about a new piece of equipment or a new procedure, but, say, details about what happens in the lung when a medication is used or how missing a treatment effects the department's budget. Wouldn't that be a change of pace?
In my opinion, football is great. Respiratory therapists are even greater. We work hurt, we work sick, we go quietly about the business of saving lives, giving great care, and working largely under-appreciated, underpaid, and undereducated. We have become content with this. It seems to be just the way it is. Like voters, we feel as though we have no say about it; we just tolerate it until something better comes along.
Given the responsibility we bear, I think we deserve a lot more recognition than a neanderthal in a football uniform, more money since our job is decidedly more important, and more education since our job is so much more vital. I wonder when respiratory therapy will see itself as valuable as I do, and when we will do something about it. When we do, maybe they will build us better hospitals, give us better pay and benefits, and even give us a shout out in the paper or on television, like football players.
That's just my opinion, Jim Thacker, MHA, CRT, AE-C