I was listening to a radio program in the car this morning about Stephen Hawking, and they mentioned one of his books, “On the Shoulders of Giants: The Great Works of Physics and Astronomy”.  Apparently, the phrase, “on the shoulders of giants” goes back a very long way, and its most familiar expression was by Isaac Newton, who is quoted as saying: « If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. » For the scientific community (and perhaps society as a whole), Stephen Hawking was definitely one of those giants.

This afternoon, I was in communication with several RTs who are in the process of retiring from the profession, and this has made me again think of the phrase “on the shoulders of giants”.  Thirty, thirty-five – and for one RT, 45 years ago – Respiratory Therapy looked vastly different than it does today (think oxygen tents, Beckman O2 analyzers & the Bird Mark 7).  We have gone from IPPB to NAVA in a relatively short period of time, but this advancement was not handed to us on a silver platter. It was gained only after an incredible amount of presence and persistence on the part of these retiring RTs “giants” and all the other RTs who have been practicing for a long time.

So, if you are a newly minted RT – welcome to the profession!  It has evolved tremendously over the years and we are confident you are going to take it even further. And if you are one of the RTs who have been in the game for quite some time and are now moving on to the next phase of your life – thank you!  The profession and your patients owe you more than could ever be repaid.

Carole Hamp

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