Why I Went to the Summer Forum and What I Got Out of It

 Published: August 21, 2019

By: Heather Willden


beach scene with summer forum logo

AARC’s Summer Forum 2019 attendees shared some rave reviews for why you should register for the 2020 meeting if you’re a manager or educator. What did they get out of the experience? Here are their take aways —

Insights to being a better leader

I attended for professional growth, and my take homes from the sessions were new ideas, networking, and the importance of continuing to learn to be a better leader.

I believe you should never stop learning and one way to do that is to attend conferences such as this one that was offered by leadership members from across the country.

It was great to hear from educators and leaders with common issues we all face in our day-to-day profession and ways to become a better leader and help others coming up who will take our place in the future.

— Dave Rodriguez, BA, RRT, director, cardiopulmonary services, Hamilton General Hospital, Hamilton, TX

Access to priceless networking

I attended because I like the interaction with other people in my job. The networking is priceless and gives me hope that others are struggling like I do on certain items. My takeaways are succession planning and the fact that I need to formalize this process.

Secondly, the lectures on time and the 12-week year hit home for me. I am like Scott in that I will follow the rules and get things done only to discover I am alone in this fact.

I will be joining the book club and have already ordered the book.

I think people should understand that they can advance their departments and career if they attend the Forum. Networking is the most important part of the meeting and the connections last for years. I am beginning to see the same faces and stay in touch throughout the year with those folks and they help me solve problems faster or find the resources I need to solve the problems.

— Jeff Thompson, MBA, RRT, RRT-NPS, director of respiratory therapy, neurodiagnostics, and the sleep lab at Floyd Medical Center in Rome, GA.

Get the latest updates to lead your team

beach scene with summer forum logo
Araceli Solis (far right), Jana Anderson (center) and Chandi Idicula (left) break for a quick photo at Summer Forum 2019.

I have attended Summer Forum every year I have been in education — nine years.

As a program director, it’s important to stay informed on AARC, CoARC, and NBRC changes or updates so that we can communicate with our faculty, leadership team, and communities of interest. When I speak to other people who attended this conference, they comment on how they learn so much at Summer Forum.

I really like that there is a Manager and Educator track.

For educators that were not able to attend, they missed out on the important agency updates. It’s better to hear of changes before they are implemented so that you can start to plan.

Some take homes from this year’s event:

  • Dig deeper when evaluating TMC scores
  • Seek innovative ways to recruit students
  • Re-evaluate how we give feedback to students.

— Araceli Solis, BS, RRT, RCP, respiratory care program director, Collin College, McKinney, TX

Time for planning and reflection

beach scene with summer forum logo
Charity Bowling, center, with fellow Indiana colleagues Richlyn Rice (left), DCE of Ivy Tech Community College’s Lafayette Program, and Tammy Hunt-Dimirsky (right), DCE of the (IU Health) Indiana Respiratory Therapy Education Consortium at Summer Forum 2019.

Summer Forum has been one of my favorite conferences as it is geared more for educators and managers. It is always a great way to get updated on AARC, CoARC, and NBRC changes that will be emerging in the next year.

Reflecting on our own practices of how we are evaluating our students and being coaches, not mentors, hit home for me. Every nugget I grasped will be discussed with my faculty to improve our program.

I attend the Forum for the networking too, recognizing that we all have the same challenges and that individuals that attend the Summer Forum are more than willing to share their ideas and experiences. It’s specialized content for educators and managers in a smaller, relaxed environment.

— Charity Bowling, MA, RRT, respiratory therapy program chair, Ivy Tech Community College-Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN

Topics designed for managers and educators

beach scene with summer forum logo
Samantha Davis tries out the big harbor chair at Summer Forum 2019.

As an educator, I’ve attended Congress for many years but never Summer Forum. This year I decided to take the leap and am so glad I did!

The program included lots of great information about supporting students, recruitment and retention, and developing as an educator.

Summer Forum has an entirely different vibe than Congress.

If you’re an educator or a manager, or even hoping to be soon, Summer Forum is the place you need to be. The topics and the networking are specifically for you!

— Samantha Davis, MS, RRT, RRT-NPS, AE-C, CHSE, director of clinical education and simulation, Boise State University, Boise, ID

Always a vacation destination

AARC Summer Forum 2020 will be July 13-15 in Snowbird, UT.

Go to AARC Congress 2020

AARC Congress 2020 is the premier meeting of the year in the respiratory therapy profession. It’s designed by RTs, for RTs. Whether you are a manager or educator or bedside therapist you’ll find top-notch sessions targeting your specific area of practice. Save your spot today!


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

Heather Willden

Heather Willden is the Director of Governance and Strategic Initiatives for the AARC where she works with state affiliates as the HOD liaison. She also manages DEI efforts and strategic initiatives. Connect with her about these topics by email, AARConnect or LinkedIn. When she's not working, you can find her podcasting with her husband, exploring new hiking trails, photographing, and spending time with her family.

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