Kind of a Big Deal

I think we have one of the most important jobs in the healthcare system.

I know I’m probably preaching the choir here.  If you’re reading this, you’re most likely a fellow respiratory therapist, who as come looking for insight, or the latest practice updates, or some of the other educational tidbits on tap.  I still want to take a moment and talk about why you’re going out of your way to increase your knowledge, because I know (especially since Respiratory Care Week has come and gone again) it can be easy to lose the big picture.

But think for a moment about the scope of services we provide. We can be called upon to help at any bedside in the hospital, from labor and delivery and the NICU to elder care units.  You might find us in the ER, opening up an asthmatic with continuous nebulizers, or you might find us up in the ICU, checking the chest wiggle on an oscillator patient.  We might be intubating, we might be drawing an ABG sample, we might be yelling at someone to blow through a tube to find out if they have COPD.  Increasingly, we’re even in places we haven’t been before. With changes in healthcare law and policy, like the Hospital Readmission Reduction Program, places are starting to use RTs throughout the continuum of care. Now we’re educators, facilitators, even case managers.

It’s a pretty impressive scope.  We can only expect this to expand, too; the push is on for “value-based” care, driven by providing the most effective treatment in the most efficient manner at the most appropriate time.  This is, of course, an area at which we excel. Time and again, research has shown that RTs can improve outcomes while reducing costs, because of our unique skillset and experience.

So, it’s important to not only stay up on the latest in clinical practice, healthcare policy, and trends in the field, but to keep that sense of professional pride we all feel during our tribute week.  The rest of the world may only recognize us for one week (and honestly, if that), but we all know what we’re about the rest of the year.  We may be the best-kept secret in healthcare, but we’re also one of the most important components.  With asthma, COPD, and other chronic lung issues continuing to rise, we can have a major impact on both lives and fiscal bottom lines.

That’s why I say we’re kind of a big deal.  More importantly, you’re kind of a big deal, because you’re here, taking the time and effort to get ready for the new healthcare paradigm.  What do you want to learn today?