The closing out of a year always makes me want to look back and I am usually amazed about how much has happened in just twelve-months. Like most years, 2016 was mostly good with just a couple of things I could have lived without. Hopefully it was the same for you, too.
If I look back on my career as an RT, it’s pretty much like that as well. I have enjoyed almost all of my time as an RT, but there have definitely been some challenges along the way. Recently someone who is considering becoming an RT asked me two questions: “What do you like most about being an RT?” and “What do you find most difficult?” I think my answers were quite similar to how a lot of RTs would have responded, especially those of you who have been practicing for a long time. I have always loved being part of the team – being part of something bigger than myself. But the challenge has been and often continues to be that we have had to push, to be recognized as an equal member of that team. I still hear about Rapid Response Teams that don’t have RTs on them (hello…it has “RRT” right in the name!). And I probably get at least one call/email a week from an RT who is trying to convince their employer/colleagues that they have the necessary skills to provide one type of patient care service or another. So from my perspective of over 31 years as an RT, the struggle for place and recognition continues.
All of that could be a bit depressing if we didn’t look back and see how far that struggle has taken us as a profession – even if they have at times seemed to be very tiny, incremental changes. We have gone from cleaning and circuiting vents in a back room to managing ECMO in the ICU – from being tank jockeys to Anesthesia Assistants. So all the RTs who have come before us, as well as those who are still in the game and continue to push forward, deserve the credit for all the incredible advancements in our profession.
We are a small profession and so sometimes our voice is drowned out by larger, more influential groups. But having recently had the opportunity to take a closer look at RT practice in other countries, I have come to realize how truly amazing the RT role is in Canada. Our practice is recognized, envied and emulated internationally and so we are definitely on the right track. We just need to continue to push the envelope because we know we have even more we can offer to the team and to our patients.
Wishing you a safe and relaxing holiday (and quiet shifts for those who are working). The future of Respiratory Therapy continues to be a bright one!