Cheers to 75!

 Published: January 19, 2022

By: Debbie Bunch


image of AARC 75 year anniversary logo with old photos in the background. Reads Celebrating our past, building our future.

When a small group of clinicians gathered in Chicago, IL, in 1947 to form an association to represent the growing number of inhalation therapists working in the nation’s hospitals, they certainly wanted to think that the fledgling organization would still be around some 75 years later.

But like anything else that is brand new and untested, none of them could say for sure what the future held for their newly minted Inhalation Therapy Association (ITA).

If only they could see us now!

Over the past 75 years, the ITA has grown into the AARC. The respiratory therapists we represent have made their mark on everything from adult acute care and neonatal-pediatrics to respiratory diagnostics, ambulatory care, sleep medicine, transport services, patient education, and so much more.

To celebrate this major milestone in our history, the AARC launched a brand new 75th Anniversary section on the AARC website to bring the events that have shaped both the profession and the Association into the spotlight.

History lesson

As chair of the AARC’s Virtual Museum Committee, Trudy Watson, BS, RRT, FAARC, urges RTs everywhere to visit the site and take some time to learn more about the Association’s history.

“The AARC has been instrumental in providing support to the Chartered Affiliates for state licensure, offering continuing education courses and programs for each specialty area of the profession, providing pulmonary disease education for patients and the general public, appointing representatives to key agencies and organizations which impact respiratory care, and keeping the membership informed of issues, challenges, and advancements,” she said.

AARC President Sheri Tooley, BSRT, RRT, RRT-NPS, CPFT, AE-C, FAARC, credits the Association for taking the profession from one staffed by inhalation therapists trained on the job to one of licensed professionals in 49 states, Washington, DC, Puerto Rico, and Guam.

She also applauds the AARC’s efforts to develop a vibrant international presence, now embodied by the International Council on Respiratory Care, along with its support for expanding RT services into every part of health care touched by people with respiratory conditions.

“The AARC continues to lobby for RT services outside of the hospital so we can provide our patients with the best respiratory care in all settings,” said Tooley. “The AARC advocates for the profession, and that ultimately benefits our patients.”

Watson says when you consider everything the AARC has done, it’s easy to see how influential it has been in the lives of RTs, whether they recognize it or not.

“Honestly, I can’t begin to imagine where the profession would be today — or even if we would exist as a profession — were it not for the guidance and support provided by the AARC over the years,” she said.

Lots of ways to celebrate

How can you get involved in the anniversary celebrations? The new site section is a great place to start. Here are some of the features you’ll find —

  • Monthly polls asking you to weigh in on key aspects of the AARC.
  • Celebratory videos from leaders in the profession and everyday members who send in their videos to be featured on the site.
  • Member Memories, where AARC members can share their fondest experiences related to the AARC.
  • 75th Anniversary gear from the AARC Store. We have everything from t-shirts to coffee mugs to help you show your support.

This year, everything gathered on the site will help set the stage for the RTs who are still around to mark our 100th anniversary in 2047.

Jump on board!

None of us can say for sure what the next 25 years will bring, but Trudy Watson believes they’ll be just as significant as the last 75.

“The AARC will continue its primary role to advance the profession and offer continuing education opportunities for our members,” she said. “As the role of the respiratory therapist evolves in the future, the AARC will continue to work closely with the NBRC, CoARC, and other relevant agencies to ensure our members are prepared for future practice and future areas of specialization.”

Sheri Tooley agrees.

“The AARC supports and promotes Advanced Practice RTs, a minimum BS degree, RTs in all care settings, and practicing at the top of our scope of practice,” she said.

Let’s kick up our heels!

But right now, it’s time to celebrate our past!

“2022 will give us the opportunity to look back at just how far the AARC and the respiratory care profession have come over the past 75 years,” said Watson. “The AARC’s diamond anniversary will offer multiple opportunities to celebrate and reflect on the AARC’s history.”

It’s up to all of us to make that celebration worthy of the 75 years it represents.

“The AARC is your professional organization,” emphasized Tooley. “We need our members to engage in conversations that will promote and enhance the profession.”

Cheers to 75!

Learn more about the history of your profession in our Virtual Museum.

Visit the AARC 75th Anniversary site often for new and exciting content.

Post on social media to raise awareness of this major milestone in the profession, and use the hashtag #AARC75 on all your social media posts.

Email with questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you.

Debbie Bunch

Debbie Bunch is an AARC contributor who writes feature articles, news stories, and other content for Newsroom, the AARC website, and associated emailed newsletters. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, traveling, photography, and spending time with her children and grandchildren. Connect with Debbie by email or on AARConnect or LinkedIn.

Heading to the New Era

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