Residency Program Gets New RTs Up to Speed

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Getting a new RT acclimated to the respiratory care department can be a challenge. An official residency program implemented by Northside Hospital in Atlanta, GA, is making the transition easier to handle.

“I developed the outline for this program in early 2016 in response to a request from the director and manager of the department,” says Debra Wakeham, MEd, RRT, clinical coordinator for the internship program.


As a former respiratory care instructor at a local community college, she had the skills needed to accomplish the task, and her background as a PRN therapist at Northside meant she knew the hospital and its particular needs as well.

The program basically marries didactic instruction with bedside care. New hires at each of the three Northside campuses come together for weekly classroom sessions and then return to their home hospitals to work clinical shifts with a preceptor that cover all the areas of their facility.

Wakeham says the classroom sessions cover topics that are specific to Northside, along with general topics on professional communication, professional development, management of difficult patients, HIPAA, and other issues.

Twenty residents went through the program in 2017, and she believes they came away from the experience better prepared to become valuable members of the Northside health care team.

“The residency program gives the new grads tools they need to present a professional image and communicate with physicians as well as patients, and helps them handle the emotional and other non-clinical issues that go along with health care,” she says.

Wakeham says she would recommend a hospital-specific residency program to all respiratory care managers.

“The beauty of this is that it can be tailored to the specific needs of each individual hospital setting,” she says.

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