Honoring RTs | One Year on the Front Lines of COVID-19

 Published: March 17, 2021

By: Addie Schiefer



2020, the promising dawn of a new decade. Many celebrated the arrival of the new year with hopes of an imitation of the roaring ’20’s a century ago. In a turn of events 2020 brought us COVID-19 and taught us how to come together, work harder than ever before, lean on one another, and so much more.

Having just passed the one-year mark of the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many are looking forward to moving beyond the historical event. No doubt, this past year has been tough for RTs and all health care workers. The AARC cannot thank RTs enough for the sacrificial work they’ve done during this pandemic. Many of you sacrificed time with loved ones, your own health, worked longer hours, and so much more that has gone on behind the scenes. You are respected and valued by the team at the AARC.

A word from the front lines

One RT that helps paint a picture of what so many front-line workers experienced this year, is AARC member Brady Scott, MSc, RRT, RRT-ACCS, AE-C, FAARC, FCCP. Having been on the front lines of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois he saw it all. With Chicago being one of the surge cities, Scott has had his hands full since the start of the pandemic last year.

Along with working on the front lines, Scott has been on the forefront of interviews with several news outlets advocating the role RTs have played in saving lives. Watch Scott’s news interviews:

“I mean this sincerely – I have never been prouder of our profession,” Scott said. “We saw the very best of our profession during the hardest of times. Many RTs were tired, overworked, and even scared, but they cared for their patients that needed them. In my book, they were brave; heroic.”

A tighter family

Something that has come to the forefront over the past year is burnout. With a demanding workload, lack of interaction with friends and family, and less time for self it has left RTs feeling exhausted. This has caused RTs to come together like we’ve never seen before, supporting and encouraging one another.

“RT colleagues of mine came together this year as I have never seen before,” Scott said. “We called, texted, and emailed each other – sometimes to share clinical practice thoughts and ideas, but just as often to only check-in. It was like a family taking care of each other during tough times.”


RTs in the spotlight

“I know some say things like, ‘I don’t do it for the recognition,’ and I get that,” Scott said. “But, in my opinion, it is time for RTs to share some of the spotlight.”

Since the start of the pandemic the AARC has been flooded with emails and notifications of our members in the news. Members and non-members alike, being celebrated for their hard work and the two words ‘respiratory therapist’ becoming more of a household name. Our members stepped up to the plate in the hospital and in the news making it known who is involved in saving the lives of so many.

Read countless stories of members in the news here

“RTs have put it all on the line during the pandemic, have worked tirelessly, and have been courageous,” Scott said. “And frankly, they worked hard before the pandemic and will do so after. I am glad the public got to hear about the respiratory care profession specifically, instead of just as ‘health care workers.’ I hope this is just the beginning.”

The AARC is dedicated to the continued recognition of the RT profession with new initiatives during 2021. You can help us spread the word and recruit the new generation of RTs by checking out our Be An RT initiative, which was created in 2019.

Check out these videos from members Alicia Wafer, MBA, RRT, and Natalie Weeks, CRT, describing what it’s like to work in a COVID-19 hotspot:

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Looking forward and beyond

With three approved vaccines many RTs are starting to feel hopeful. Especially with President Biden expanding those who can administer the vaccine to include RTs.

“I’m hopeful and quite optimistic,” Scott said. “The pandemic has been taxing, but our profession met the challenge – and will meet other challenges. We just need to be ready for whatever the future holds.”

If anything, the pandemic has proved that RTs are an integral part of the critical care team and beyond. Respiratory Therapy is a profession worth celebrating today and every day.

Check out photos of RTs from the front-lines in our #RTSTRONG Facebook photo album.

Show your support for the profession with our social media toolkit. There you will find updated graphics for your cover photos and profile pictures.

“What do you say to those that have been the tip of the spear during a pandemic,” Scott said. “What do you say to those scared they were going to get sick too-but still went to work? How do you capture that in words? All I can say is thank you. Thank you for caring for our patients, our community, and our world. Thank you for being courageous-thank you for stepping up. When we are challenged again, I will be proud to walk shoulder to shoulder with you.”

We remember those we lost

Thank you to the countless respiratory therapists who lost their own lives saving the lives of their patients. We are forever grateful for their work and sacrifice.

Email newsroom@aarc.org with questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you.

Addie Schiefer

Addie Schiefer is the Content Manager for the AARC where she creates engaging content for the association via the AARC website, newsletters, and social media. Connect with her about potential stories by email, AARConnect, or LinkedIn. When she’s not working, you can find her listening to a true crime podcast, traveling to new places with her husband, hanging out with her dog JoJo, or browsing the aisles of the nearest Target.

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