When you hear the term “Respiratory Care”, what does it mean to you? Does it mean clocking in and clocking out to collect a pay check? Or does it mean something special?
You see, I grew up in a family of RTs and entrepreneurs, and to me the term Respiratory Therapist or Respiratory Care meant something powerful – it meant excellence, it meant changing the world. As a child, my role models were (and still are) my father and my uncle, RTs who made a difference in patients’ lives and in our profession as a whole every single day. Like most kids, I had friends who wanted to be doctors, astronauts, and even the President of the United States. I knew at an early age that I wanted to be a Respiratory Therapist, I wanted to be an entrepreneur, and I wanted to make a difference . In my mind RTs were the top of the food chain. I assumed doctors and lawyers, politicians and astronauts were all equals to Respiratory Therapists. When I went on to respiratory school I learned this is not the case, and, to tell you the truth, I was devastated with disappointment when I found out that RTs were not respected the way I felt they should be – the way I respected them. But most of all, I was devastated that RTs didn’t seem to mind this situation we were in.
Think about it, we are highly skilled specialists in the diagnostics and treatment of the two most important organs, and yet we are, in many cases, content with our status. How can we be content being, as some call it, “treatment jockeys.” Is this what you went to school for? Did you wake up one day and say, “I really want to be in a job where respect is only given to those who earn it back after many before us worked hard to do the minimum to get by?” What about those elite before us who pioneered the profession and made it possible for us to make a living today?