As I sit here writing this, and with all the changes over the last 11 months, I still would not trade this profession for any other. Where did the last 40 years go? I have learned so much from so many that I could never personally thank you all. I am humbled and proud to be your AARC President 2021-2022.
The events of the past year have forever changed our lives. We lost friends, colleagues, family members, and countless patients to a terrible virus. Our health care heroes are overwhelmed, exhausted, and stressed. I look forward to the day we are all in a room together again! Remember to take some time for yourself. I heard an excellent lecture on mindfulness a couple of weeks ago. It reminded me I still have so much to be thankful for in this time in history. What about you? Vaccines have arrived, and the horizon is brighter each day with each new person vaccinated. We are respiratory therapists, and we will adapt to our new normal because our patients are counting on us.
The AARC and Board of Directors will continue to lead during my presidency, with the six horizon goals developed during Dr. Brian Walsh’s presidency. They are:
- Communications & Marketing
- Education & Professional Development
- Events & Meetings
- Revenue & Finance
With those goals in mind, here is a snapshot of some activities the AARC is working to bring to our members.
January 2021 brought the AARC a new Interim Executive Director. Paul Divis joined the organization with a background in leadership and marketing. We will soon be hiring a firm to conduct a national search for the permanent executive director position.
Many of you have been a part of a virtual conference or meeting, including Summer Forum (AARC LIVE!) and Congress (AARC Congress LIVE!). The Executive Office staff continue to amaze me and perfect our ability to provide a high-quality conference in a virtual platform. There have been productive conversations about continuing to offer this virtual platform in the future to those who may not be able to attend an in-person conference. While there is no substitution for the networking and camaraderie you get from an in-person event, this addition will add value to the membership.
The AARC recently entered into a Co-marketing agreement with the NBRC and CoARC. This multi-year marketing campaign will gear toward promoting the profession and the respiratory therapist. More to come.
The January RESPIRATORY CARE journal brought two updated Clinical Practice Guidelines on adult and pediatric tracheostomy management. There are several others in the process of updates.
Anne Marie Hummel, Associate Executive Director for Advocacy and Government Affairs, keeps us up to date in the legislative arena. Under her guidance, I signed letters to:
- The Biden/Harris team, requesting consideration in adding an AARC member to represent the respiratory care profession on their coronavirus team.
- Congress on Omnibus Negotiations, regarding funding for CDC’s Office of Smoking and Health.
- The House and Senate Telehealth Working Group members, requesting they retain the provision in the CONNECT for Health Act that would include RTs to provide telehealth in the alternative payment models being tested as part of CMS’ Innovation Center as they work to reintroduce the bill in the 117th Congress.
Anne Marie also reported that the Energy and Commerce Committee wants to include respiratory therapists in a bill passed by the House last year. This bill will be reintroduced in the new Congress and, in effect, will increase workforce diversity in allied health professions. The bill would authorize grant money to provide scholarships or stipends for those pursuing careers in underrepresented professions. Profession examples include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech pathology and audiology, and now respiratory therapy. This effort comes at a time when we want to expand and elevate our activities to grow the profession.
The Board of Directors approved an Issue Paper entitled “Determining the Value-Efficacy of Respiratory Care.” It will accompany the updated Uniform Reporting Manual scheduled to be released by mid-March.
If there is a committee that you would like to volunteer for, please reach out to an Executive Office Associate or me. Volunteers make up our organization, and we need dedicated individuals to whom we can pass the torch.
Do you know about the COVID-19 RT Fund? The AARC Board of Directors created the COVID-19 RT Fund. With donations from our industry partners and members, the fund sends money to the families of respiratory therapists who died in their service to patients with COVID-19. The AARC grants $500 to the family of the RT who died from complications of the disease. Two commemorative blocks in the AARC Virtual Museum, one for the RT’s family and one for the RT’s employer, are also donated. If you know of a respiratory therapist who lost their life to COVID-19, please contact the AARC to reach out to the family.
The pandemic thrust the respiratory therapy profession and the respiratory therapist into the limelight in a manner we could never have imagined. We need to make the best of a bad situation. One of my new favorite songs is from Rascal Flatts. I believe it epitomizes the respiratory therapist. It is “How They Remember You.” It’s not if it’s how they remember you. My wish is that the world remembers the respiratory therapist as the heroes that we are. We will not quit, we will not fall, we will bend, we will not break! That is how they will remember respiratory therapists.
Sheri Tooley BSRT, RRT, RRT-NPS, AE-C, CPFT, FAARC
AARC President & CEO (2021–2022)
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