It’s often very challenging for any of us to find the time or energy to do much more than what simply needs to be done in a given day. There seems to be more and more demands being placed on all of us, with so many competing priorities clamouring for our attention. Yet we know that when we do manage to go that extra mile and do what we (or others) didn’t think –possible, it feels amazing. We are invigorated and proud when we’re able to exceed all of our expectations (and others’) – and this is not just true not in our personal lives either. When we go above and beyond as RTs, the effect is two-fold because it not only enriches us as individuals, but also elevates our entire profession.

Sometimes the greatest achievements begin with people refusing to listen to their own voices, or those of others, saying there is not enough time or money and that it will simply never happen. Nelson Mandela said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done”. This phrase reminds me of the Respiratory Therapists Without Borders (RTWB) initiative, which is a project that began as one RT’s idea – Eric Cheng. With the perfect combination of skill and passion, Eric’s vision has grown into a very successful and sustainable program allowing many RTs to share their specialized knowledge with the wider world. In the words of a couple RTs who have given their time to RTW

“Having been a student for what feels like a lifetime, I have had my share of great mentors and learning experiences. Perhaps one of my most humbling and enriching experiences came during my time as a RT student where I had the opportunity to do a placement in one of the oldest and busiest hospitals in Nepal. As this organization is one of the only government run hospitals; it offers free treatment to those who are underprivileged and poverty-stricken. Seeing how the doctors made every possible effort to ensure that each patient received the best treatment possible, despite their lack of funding and medical equipment, gave me new perspective on the meaning of altruism. Now that I am a practicing RRT, I too have been given the opportunity to provide high quality, patient-centered care and to rise to the challenge of giving back and having a positive impact on my profession; and that, is what I intend to do.”
~ Clement Hui RRT

“When I got the opportunity to teach the doctors and nurses of Patan Hospital how to use CPAP and a few months later, BIPAP to treat ailments that often patients died of until this time, the feeling was incredible. I was so humbled by the difference in my world compared to theirs and this experience has opened my eyes to the need for our help around the world to places less privileged than ours. It has also motivated me to continue to help at RTWB however I am able because I truly believe they are doing an incredible amount of good!”
~ Annika Janssens RRT

RTWB is just one of the infinite ways (think RTSO, CSRT, Lung Association, etc.) that we can give back to our profession and pay it forward to those who need our help. What we offer does not have to be a grand gesture or an enormous sacrifice; simply giving our best effort while teaching a student RT is a tremendous gift to that student and to all the patients they will encounter down the road. We all have the opportunity- no matter how busy we are – to go beyond what is merely expected of us and fulfill a very real need in the world. To quote another famous and learned individual (Dr. Seuss)… “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not”.

All the best for a safe and meaningful holiday.

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