Respiratory Care Week!
Happy Monday yall! Today kicks off a big week. It is Respiratory Care Week 2022. I am proud to be an RT and I love voicing my career. My career isn't as well known as a nurse or doctor but we are a valuable part of the healthcare system. I have been an RT since 2008. Back in my day we could apply for a temp license, six months before graduating and begin practicing aka getting paid. I remember being the new grad like yesterday and remember silly mistakes that I made along the way. I learned to love coffee working 12 hour shifts at the hospital. I grew up and got married and had my girls at my hospital. My coworkers have turned into family over the years and I have made lifelong friends who I genuinely love and care about. When you are in healthcare, there are so many what if's and not any situation ends up being the same. It takes time at the bedside to learn all the things. Fourteen years later, I still learn something daily but I feel very competent in my patient care and treatment plans.
I have spoke before on being an RT and especially how it felt during COVID, after COVID more peeps knew what a Respiratory Therapist was, I can guarantee that. Speaking about my COVID experience is painful and 2020-2021 for sure were a dark period of my career. I honestly am not going to speak on COVID much on this post because that was a horrible period in my career and while it will never fully disappear, the cases seem less severe. Maybe we are all just so desensitized to COVID or traumatized more like it.
I have worked at the same hospital my whole career. I hate change and feel like I do in fact work at the very best in our area. Why change a good thing. So what does a Respiratory Therapist do you might ask?
We work in the ER with anyone that comes in emegently having trouble breathing, someone that needs life support aka ventilator, BIPAP machine or CPAP machine for sleep apnea, traumas, fluid overloaded from heart disease, COPD exacerbations from lung disease, diabetics who are in DKA, pediactric emergencies, so many things can and do occur in the emergency room. I primarily work in the ER and I love it. In a weird way, without sounding like a total weirdo, I love getting to be in the emergency department. You have to be well rounded, know life saving measures for any and all ages. I mean I'm kinda a big deal, yall. HAHA just joking. I am humble I promise.
Pulmonary Rehab is another avenue that I spent time doing. Talk about fun. Essentially, its a gym like setting, where patients with significant lung disease come participate in trying to strengthen and build some muscle that in turn helps with their breathing. Working in rehab was gratifying and you really developed relationships with your patients and their families. I was always sad when they would graduate but happy knowing they had hopefully gained knowledge and strength to live a more enjoyable lifestyle.
NICU, this is a whole animal in itself. Early in my career, I would have considered myself a NICU therapist, but I just don't love working with tiny babies anymore. It is a highly specific area where you need to be on your game every second. We attend all deliveries and you never know when a baby is going to come out not breathing and you quickly have to intervene. My peeps over there in the NICU are rockstars who are ready for anything that comes their way.
Arterial blood gases. On any given day at work, I might draw 15-20 ABG's. If you have ever had one, you know they can be painful. We typically draw them in the wrist and we are checking your breathing more or less. Usually patients are not thrilled when we come in holding a needle.
Breathing treatments. These are our bread and butter. Albuterol makes our world go round! It fixes everything or so the RN's or resident MD's think. HA. If you know, you know. We give hundreds of breathing treatments in a days time though and most of time they truly are warranted.
ICU's. This area is huge for being a Respiratory Therapist. We run the breathing machines aka ventilators. When someone has a breathing tube, thats us. It is also a highly trained area where you better be competent to spout numbers and settings and know what the patient might need. We are there to assist when someone passes away in a code blue situation or when the family decides to make their loved one comfort care measures and we take the breathing tube out. A whole lot of days in the ICU can be very sad, you see alot of unfortunate situations.
I am not trying to act like I work all the time though so this is a disclaimer. I went PRN about six months ago now and I typically work twelve-twenty four hours a week now. It has been the best decision for my busy family and I am very thankful that I was able to take a step back and refocus. Working in a hospital setting for so many years, nightshift, dayshift evening shift, missing holidays and weekends with your loved ones, is DRAINING. I have missed every single Thanksgiving since my girls have been alive. Just some sacrifices that healthcare workers. Working in healthcare and being a Respiratory Therapist isn't for the weak hearted though and I have and will always be so proud of my career choice. We get to do amazing things and being at the bedside for a patient's best day or worst day humbles me. If you know any Respiratory Therapist, make sure you love on them this week and let them know they are appreciated.
Thanks for listening guys!! If you don't love your career, seek something you do love. Life is too short. Find what your passionate about and GO AFTER IT!
See ya back here Friday!