What does being a respiratory therapist mean to you?

What does being a respiratory therapist mean to you?
One of the many perks of working at the AARC is that I get to talk to people from all over the world in various stages of their careers: seeking to become a respiratory therapist, respiratory therapists seeking work, respiratory therapists seeking tools with which to be more effective, respiratory therapists seeking further education, etc. Over the past three months I've had dozens of conversations with people about almost every aspect of our profession. 

Like all respiratory therapists, I wish that we were as recognizable as other health professionals. Yesterday, I had a conversation with a person who is looking into respiratory therapy as a career. Like many people, he was a little fuzzy on the concept of a respiratory therapist. We talked about the college curriculum; credentialing; the difference between the AARC, the NBRC and the CoARC; job outlook in his area; and the various venues in which one can find a respiratory therapist. At the end of our conversation, he asked a question I don't think I've ever been asked before: what does being a respiratory therapist mean to you?

I was a little taken aback. I've been asked about why I decided to become a respiratory therapist and why I took this job or that job but this was a new question for me. I didn't have to think long, though. Being a respiratory therapist means that I have an opportunity to help people learn about wellness and learn about their chronic disease processes; I am a part of a team that develops a comprehensive plan to help people live higher quality lives; I am a professional who can make a difference in the quality of patient care in our acute care facilities. 

So now I'll turn the question over to you: What does being a respiratory therapist mean to YOU?
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Michael Guy Nibert, BSRT, RRT March 23, 2013 2:44 pm
What does a Respiratory Therapist mean to you?
I will simply respond that we must use the AARC position statements as the nucleus of all discussions http://www.aarc.org/resources/position_statements/defin.html.
In my words, if your heart is in the right place and you are a true patient advocate then you will be happy with your profession for decades. I hope to read many responses to this Blog and SALUTE to Shawna for engaging our membership in this forum---