Assess Your Certifications
As this New Year starts, it is a good time to take an assessment of your certifications. Respiratory therapy now requires a diverse spectrum of skills and training. More than ever, respiratory therapists are called upon for not only treating patients, but also for advice. We are expected to know not only the respiratory system, but how the system relates to other systems in the body. Respiratory therapists are some of the most intelligent people walking through the hospital. We not only treat the patient's body, but their minds and the bodies and minds of their families and friends. Doctors count on us to make decisions based not only on what equipment we have on hand, but on therapies and protocols we read about, about new technologies we learn about at conferences or seminars, and look to us to integrate everything for the best patient care.
For the respiratory side, you will, of course, need a CPR card. An ACLS card is good, as is NALS, PALS and other training. Many therapists now seek more expertise through trauma training, both in urban and rural settings. Those serious about treating COPD patients may want to take the COPD Educator Course, and those intent about treating asthma may want to sit for the Certified Asthma Educator (AE-C) course. Those with a passion for prevention can consider becoming a smoking cessation counselor. There are many avenues available, depending on how serious you are about the profession.
To branch out a bit, you may consider taking a course in sleep study. College courses may help you understand and explain anatomy and physiology better. Practical applications will be found on an almost daily basis. Many courses exist now on the development of the mind, especially in older adults, and the compromises we all face as the years creep up on us. If you already have all the cards you need, consider becoming an instructor. A CPR or ACLS instructor can make a handsome side income through teaching. The addition of "instructor" on your resume may mean the difference between getting a job or not getting it.
In my opinion, this is a good time to take stock of what you have and where you want to go. For many, getting the RRT credentials is an important step in fulfilling your dreams, but don't stop there. While differences between CRT's and RRT's vary with institutions, there can be no doubt about the differences between those with advanced training in life support sciences and disease treatment and those who are just skating by. Take stock, assess where you want to be this time next year, make a plan, and have a great year accomplishing what many will only dream of.
That's just my opinion,
Jim Thacker, MHA, CRT, AE-C