Someone told me the other day that: “There is no point in me taking any extra courses or paying for a conference. I know all I need to in order to do my job. There is nothing more I need to learn.”  I didn’t really know how to respond to that statement.  Personally, I can’t think of a single aspect of my life where I know “all I need to know” (with the possible exception of the Kardashians – I know almost nothing about them and yet it’s already way more than I ever needed to know).  

In all other areas though, I find that learning never seems to end – especially when it comes to my job.  Everything in health care changes so quickly, and we need to keep up no matter where we work as an RT.  This doesn’t mean taking courses or attending conferences every day – most of us learn on the job and on the fly, usually unaware of the new knowledge we are gaining.  But sometimes it’s important for all of us to step outside of our little world and take in the bigger picture.

Maybe you’ve been working in a particular area of practice for a long time and feel that you know quite a bit (although I still don’t think it could possibly be “everything”).  But what about those external forces outside your practice setting that impact what you do?  No matter where you work, you are affected either directly or indirectly by things like the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, RT education programs, the National Competency Profile, and the health care labour market.  You may not feel that you or your practice changes all that much, but these external influences and factors are undergoing a dramatic evolution at this very moment.  And these changes affect all of us– whether we are conscious of it or not. 

For example, at one time I didn’t think the provincial government had much to do with our little hospital-based Asthma Education Centre – until of course it was closed because of the Ministry of Health’s move towards shifting more out-patient care into the community.  I also didn’t appreciate the degree to which the National Competency Profile dictates how and what RT students are taught, and that the reason some of our students struggled with neonatal ventilation was because it’s often challenging for schools to find specialized clinical placements.  I didn’t even know there is a National Alliance of Respiratory Therapy Regulatory Bodies, which is involved in making decisions about important RT practice issues like entry-to-practice requirements, interprovincial labour mobility, and providing credentials to internationally educated health care professionals.

To paraphrase Conestoga College’s marketing slogan:  what happens out there…matters to you!  The knowledge that  you have gained from you specific experience and practice are important, but there are also many ways to learn more about the big-picture factors affecting you as an RT.  Professional development and continuing education provide an opportunity to keep your skills and knowledge current, relevant and reflective of today’s patient needs. 

Consider the domains of GROW, and events such as the upcoming INSPIREvolution 2014 Conference in Toronto (November 21 & 22), hosted by both the CRTO and the RTSO, that brings together speakers from every organization that shapes and defines the profession.  Please come and join us for this special conference exclusively created about RTs and for RTs.  Whether you’re a rookie or a veteran RT (like me), there is always more we need to learn.

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