R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Earning it in Respiratory Therapy


Respected clinicians are more likely to move up the career ladder in their facilities. AARC members explain what they think RTs need to do to earn the respect of their peers.

Be a team player

“Make yourself available and be an integral part of the interprofessional collaborative team,” advises Jon Inkrott, RRT, RRT-ACCS. “Talk about what you do to others, or maybe do some community outreach so people know we do more than ‘give breathing treatments.’”

He believes RTs who engage in the profession by becoming a preceptor for students, serve as an instructor for BLS/ACLS/PALS/NRP courses, or get involved in a departmental or hospital committee show they are team members. Joining the AARC counts too.

“Always contribute to the care team,” agrees Anne Stewart, BS, RRT. “Not just by doing your own work but by offering suggestions for patient care and process improvements that are thoughtful and relevant . . . Being the therapist that has a positive impact on patient care and process improvement decisions will earn respect for yourself and our profession.”

Daren Rainey, RRT, echoes those sentiments. “Don’t do things because that’s the way they’ve always been done. Challenge the status quo, create and build the better team. Do it for the team and you’ll get what you want.”

Do unto others

“It’s a bit cliché, but the Golden Rule really does apply, and if you treat others like you’d have them treat you, that goes a long way to building trust and respect,” said Michael Hess, BS, RRT, RPFT. “Even in cases of bad news, being fair and honest keeps everyone on the same page and reduces resentment.”

When problems arise he also advises therapists to “seek first to understand.”

“When you are willing to spend time analyzing interpersonal breakdowns, rather than just looking to assign blame, people appreciate it and remember it,” Hess said.

Bill Croft, EdD, PhD, RRT, agrees.

“Ultimately, a practitioner demonstrates self-respect and respect towards others when acting with integrity, compassion, and a sense of justice,” he said. “If the latter three are always included in any encounter, respect can be earned.”

Michael Houston, RRT, RPSGT, says being the best patient advocate possible helps RTs earn his respect.

“You earn respect by not only having knowledge but being able to apply it, and having the ability to help others understand what and why you are doing something” said Houston.

Treat everyone — especially patients — with respect and compassion, agrees Kevin McCarthy, RPFT.

“Never be condescending,” he said.

Share your expertise

As an RT, you have expertise. Share it with your colleagues inside and outside of the profession, recommends Charlene Barnes, RRT.

“Make recommendations, call the physician, and stay proactive in the course of treatment of the patient,” she said. “Educate other health care professionals in a professional respectful manner. Let them know we are professionals by acting professional.”

Roger Parent, RRT, believes the best way RTs can earn the respect of their peers is by modeling respect themselves.

“Over the three and a half decades I have been an RT, I have found this is best accomplished by being sincere, fair, and consistent with everyone I come in contact with, and, as importantly, by being knowledgeable in our field,” Parent said.

Joe Isgro, RRT, says he respects therapists who approach people with a sincere intent, a gentle nature, and a smile, and then listen deeply to what they have to say.

“Treat others with respect, without judging,” he said. “Be the change.”

La’Kisha Grays-Walton, BS, RRT, RRT-ACCS, AE-C, believes RTs who are positioned to work at the top of their license are more likely to earn respect from others.

The autonomy that comes via established protocols where treatment pathways are created, implemented, and carried out by RTs daily for both chronic and acute patients creates an immense sense of professional pride but also allows for clinical skills to be outwardly displayed to fellow clinicians on a routine basis,” she said.

Lend a hand

 Valerie Norwood, BA, RRT, decided early on in her career that respect would come by helping others get their jobs done.

“When I was a floor therapist that meant checking in with the nurses before I left to see if I could help them out. As a supervisor it means providing support in any way I can for my staff,” Norwood said.

Ask other therapists how you can help them, agrees David Arthen, RRT, RRT-NPS. Small things count, such as stocking for the next shift.

“Set up the next shift for success,” he said.

Chris Becker emphasizes respect is never given, it is earned, and earning it means RTs need to be willing to lend a hand whenever and wherever it is needed, whether that be helping a nurse’s aide reposition a patient, actively participating in multidisciplinary patient rounds, or mentoring students and new hires in the department.

“Be a resource person and a problem solver,” Becker said.

The number one rule for Bill Demaray, BS, RRT, is to “be there.” By that he means, be in your assigned area ready for any and all needs.

“Nothing worse than the RT who performs the vent checks and assessments and then leaves the unit for an hour or two until the next checks are needed,” Demaray said.

He says RTs who ensure the unit is set up and ready for the next RT are appreciated by their peers. No one respects the therapist who leaves them “a bunch of vents to clean and is writing up the report sheet as they are giving report.”

Carlos Montaño, RRT, RRT-NPS, advises therapists to be where they need to be too.

“They need to be where the action is and not in the lounge hiding, playing the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ game,” he said. “I have mandated that my staff be visible and available in all critical areas.”

That extends beyond the day-to-day too.

“It is imperative we are involved in everything we can possibly get into, from outreach to education to implementing best practice,” Montaño said.

According to Marilyn Cupery, RRT , never say: “That’s not my job.”

“I respect those most who go above and beyond their job description. They do not hesitate to offer to help anyone from any department who needs it,” Cupery said.

Jack Fried, MA, RRT, sums it up pretty well: “Dependability, reliability, and credibility . . . in short, be there when needed.” 

Most important mission

Clearly, earning respect is important for RTs who want to get ahead. As Duke Johns, BA, an honorary member of the AARC and long-time supporter of the profession who often presents on the topic before RT groups sees it, it is an important topic to people everywhere too. “Earning respect should absolutely be the most important mission of all of humanity, not just RTs.”

Heading to the New Era

Elevate | Engage | Advocate | Educate