National Respiratory Patient Advocacy Award

Presented by

AARC logoAmerican Association for Respiratory Care

The Faces Foundation logo

The National Respiratory Patient Advocacy Award is the only nationally-recognized advocacy program dedicated to honoring outstanding registered respiratory therapists nominated by leadership.

Through a collaboration of the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) and The FACES Foundation (Family & Caregiver Education & Support), the award commemorates a vital member of the health care team: the respiratory therapist. This excellent professional appreciates the “individual” instead of the “patient” and is dedicated to the principle that every breath matters.

“Every patient and their families will face a variety of challenges along their health journey, whether it be physical, emotional, social, spiritual or financial. Be a patient advocate by taking the time to be fully present and in the moment with your patient and their loved ones. Listen with intent, empower them with knowledge and help them have a voice in their care. Patients are the center of everything we do.”

Cheryl Skinner, MSc, RRT, CPFT, 2022 National Respiratory Patient Advocacy Award Recipient

“All people want to be heard. Being a patient advocate means slowing down, listening to how they feel about their situation — about their needs and the barriers to receiving their best care. Sometimes we learn from them and may need to change and do something in a different way than we’re used to. Our focus should always be on them. The patient and their family are what this is all about.”

Martina Compton, RRT, NPS, RPFT, 2021 National Respiratory Patient Advocacy Award Recipient

“Every patient has a story and a life on the other side of this current encounter. Acknowledging that fact let’s them know that we see and respect them as individuals and not just the conditions we are treating. Calming, encouraging, motivating and providing service excellence are all a part of advocating for our patients. This is not only book knowledge, it is humanity.”

Theresa Fountain, RRT, 2020 National Respiratory Patient Advocacy Award Recipient

“Build trust when working with your patients and their family members. Allow them to share their stories and listen to details within the conversation.”

Kayelene Horne, BSRT, RRT-NPS, RCP, AE-C, 2019 National Respiratory Patient Advocacy Award Recipient

“Every patient deserves care and someone to advocate for them. No matter where you work or what your role is, the patient is the core of all we do. And they should be treated as the most important part of our roles.”

Tonya Loftin, RRT, 2018 National Respiratory Patient Advocacy Award Recipient

“We often think that an ‘advocate’ is somebody storming the capital in Washington, D.C. In reality, an advocate takes time to answer questions, educate on proper breathing techniques, pushes patients forward, does basic therapies to the best of their ability and offers training.”

Christine Hartling, MHM, RRT, RRT-NPS, 2017 National Respiratory Patient Advocacy Award Recipient

Nominations come from facilities where registered respiratory therapists are actively engaged as a champion of patient and family-centered care.

Award Focus

Award Focus

  • Patient and family-centered care: Evidence provided as testimonials or other documentation that nominee is actively engaged in, or a champion of, patient and family-centered respiratory care.
  • Quality and safety: Evidence that nominee is actively engaged in efforts to improve the quality and safety of respiratory care.
  • Advocacy for respiratory care as a profession: Evidence that nominee sets an exemplary level of professionalism and clearly demonstrates advocacy for the profession.
  • Nominee meets the definition of an advocate: Evidence that nominee is a champion, supporter, promoter, fighter, crusader and proponent.
  • Nominee works across continuums and/or disciplines: Evidence that nominee’s work leads to increased integration of programs and services, resulting in improved outcomes for the patients.
  • Nominee’s work exemplified best practices: Evidence that nominee’s work results in improved outcomes for patients and clients.
  • Development of an innovative idea or suggestion: Resulting in a change of service delivery model, cost savings, time savings, workflow improvement or general safety improvement.
Submit a Nomination The deadline is July 31.


Nominations come from facilities where registered respiratory therapists provide direct care to patients with cardiopulmonary diseases and disorders.

Award finalists are chosen by a national review committee, with representatives selected by AARC and The FACES Foundation. Each year, the award recipient and finalists are honored before their peers at the AARC Congress. Finalists are also recognized in other AARC publications and on The FACES Foundation website and social media.

The award recipient receives complimentary travel with hotel accommodations for 2 nights, as well as, complimentary registration to attend the AARC Congress. Award finalists will receive a one-year paid extension to their AARC membership.

National Respiratory Patient Advocacy Award

The Sculpture

In the spirit of The National Respiratory Patient Advocacy Award, MK Shannon adapted the sculpture “Unity.” Unity, a pewter sculpture sitting atop a black marble base, consists of a trio of figures lifting a fully opened butterfly. The figures represent the triad of support upon which the person with life-threatening pulmonary illness depends. The figure on the left represents the patient’s loved ones: family and close friends. The figure on the right represents the integrated medical team. The center, and central, figure is the committed, gifted respiratory therapist, who works side by side with the patient, families and the health care team. The respiratory therapist is key to improving lung function; the lungs are represented here by the extended wings of the butterfly. It almost appears as if the butterfly emerged from its chrysalis and is ready to take flight. The symbolism resonates for those who have watched an RRT continually seek more effective ways to enable patients to breathe comfortably.

Breathing is natural and the essence of life. Patients with lung disease cherish every breath they take. AARC, The FACES Foundation, and the sculpture “Unity” honor the outstanding respiratory professional who strives each day to make that breath as easy as possible.

Heading to the New Era

Elevate | Engage | Advocate | Educate